A grant of $A70,000 (140,570 kina) from Oro Provincial Government will make a major contribution to improved services at Popondetta General Hospital.
The money has been provided at the initiative of Oro Governor Gary Juffa to Oro Community Development Project (OCDP), an Australian and Papua New Guinea charity that has been supplying medicines, medical equipment, training and visiting medical staff in a partnership with the hospital. The grant is described in a memorandum of understanding between the hospital and OCDP.
Dr Gunzee Gawin, chief executive officer of the hospital, which sees some 45,000 patients a year said the grant would help pay for doctors and specialist nurses to visit from Australia. “It will enable them to come and provide hands-on training, mentoring and coaching to our staff. This, I believe, will be a significant boost to our health care delivery services in the province.”
Dr Gawin said the memorandum also provided fellowships involving short intensive courses for Popondetta Hospital staff at Australian hospitals and medical centres. “These will be very useful in that they will open up and broaden the minds of the staff here, particularly the nursing staff, to see how it is done in Australia. We do not provide full nursing care at the moment, mostly because of lack of knowledge. The fellowships will change that, I believe.”
Dr Gawin said Papua New Guinea’s health statistics were “alarmingly poor”. As well as treating local people, the hospital saw tourists, mainly Australians walking the Kokoda trail. “We want to be the first in the public sector to fulfill our vision of an internationally accredited hospital and our partnership with OCDP is gold because it is enabling us to achieve that.”
Emily Kleinig, OCDP representative, paid tribute to Governor Juffa, saying his drive and enthusiasm had delivered the sorely needed money. “We have been associated with the hospital for many years and now with this grant we can provide professional training on a frequent and flexible basis. She said OCDP hoped to raise enough money to help pay for the fellowships in Australia for selected medical staff at Popondetta Hospital. She anticipated the fellowships would provide courses of 1-2 weeks delivered by peak medical bodies.
Maria Cartwright, a former Head of Mission at Buin in Bougainville for Medecins Sans Frontieres and Alan Scott, an MSF surgeon, have conducted a baseline survey at the hospital on behalf of OCDP to identify needs and priorities. This has resulted in an initial emphasis on infection control.
Dr Gawin said recommendations in the survey for renovations to buildings had started and more would be done when funding from the national government became available.
As well as its partnership with Popondetta Hospital, OCDP, since its establishment in 2008, has funded educational and agricultural programs in Oro province. They include staff support and training and improvements to buildings and teaching facilities.
Further information is on the OCDP website at oropng.org