2016 Annual Report

In summary

The year was one of significant progress, with a start made to urgently needed facilities and training at Popondetta General Hospital, improvements to classrooms and housing at St James Primary School and substantial growth in fundraising.

There were four team training visits during the year – in July 2015, September 2015, March 2016 and April 2016.

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The Management Committee

Changes to the management committee included the resignation of Margaret Adams as President after 5 years of generous and dedicated service. Margaret always maintained a positive attitude – an invaluable attribute when dealing with the unpredictable circumstances that occur from time to time.

Neil Cowdery resigned as Treasurer after 6 years, during which he contributed generously of his time and expertise, ensuring that OCDP kept all the financial aspects of our operation finely tuned. . Finally we express our appreciation to John Oakes, who provided valuable legal advice and resigned because of work commitments.

New appointments to the Management Committee were Lisa Montgomery and Peter Thomas. Lisa has been a member of three training team visits to Oro, has a keen appreciation of the situation and is currently Head of Drama at Roseville College. In the 1960s Peter worked in Popondetta and Kokoda initially as a patrol officer with the Australian Administration. More recently he was responsible for the Rotary distribution of anti malarial bed nets across the Solomon Islands. Peter has been a member of the Global Fund in the East Asia region. We are delighted that Maria Cartwright, a trained midwife who has worked In Bougainville as well as other developing countries, has taken on the role of OCDP medical adviser.


Popondetta Hospital

The September visit included Maria Cartwright, Alan Scott, a surgeon and Susanne Weress, a clinical pharmacist and TB consultant. All have worked for Medecins Sans Frontieres in numerous developing countries and their contribution to our work has been invaluable.

Group training was conducted with all staff at the hospital on the wearing of masks and other ways of reducing the risk of TB infection. With young infant mortality a major problem in PNG, training in neonatal resuscitation was provided to staff working in maternal health. New Britain Palm Oil Ltd employees working at outlying health clinics also took part in these sessions, thereby extending the training beyond the hospital.

Alan Scott held discussions with the hospital’s surgical team. We were able to secure the services of an electrician to repair faulty lighting in the operating theatre that had prevented all but a few emergency operations. As well, steps were initiated for the repair of a steriliser that had stopped working.

Susanne Weress discovered problems with the supply of medicines at the hospital, with most of those used out-of-date by between six months and two years. The pharmacy also was severely understaffed but the reinstatement of previous staff has since improved this situation.

This visit and an earlier baseline survey culminated in Maria Cartwright and Anne Johnston, a medical scientist, producing a detailed written reassessment of the hospital in April, charting the way ahead for the hospital and OCDP. The report included 14 urgent and essential recommendations, including infection control measures, more effective accident and emergency procedures and improved treatment of TB patients.

In particular, the report identified the urgent need for the construction of a separate TB ward at the hospital to ensure separation from other patients to minimise the risk of cross infection. Initial discussions began on this project during the March visit. In regards to the pharmacy, the urgent and essential recommendations included keeping six adult and three paediatric TB drug treatments in stock.

The report contains another 14 recommendations rated as highly desirable and 11 categorised as desirable. Improvements have already been made to the ablution blocks in the medical, surgical and labour wards and a new structure has been built for the paediatric ward.

Further consideration is being given to ensuring that the training at the hospital is effective. In particular, we need to more carefully monitor how much of our training is understood and acted upon. We will use the services of a unit at the hospital that is responsible for co-ordinating training to make staff aware of forthcoming visits and the topics to be covered in training sessions.


St James Primary School

The school now has six classes from grades three to eight. Total enrolment is 283, with 67 in grade 3 and the other classes in the mid-40. The school has a new principal, Chris Memeho and another new teacher.

Further work was carried out during the year on the renovation of the third classroom and desks were built for the older children. Plans have been made for the installation of a tank for the girls’ toilets.

The drought severely affected the school food garden and the shortage of water meant chicken production had not restarted. But it was reported after the March visit that the school was better presented than for a number of years, with all the grass areas mown, materials under houses removed, the food garden expanding and repairs to teachers’ houses. There were plans for a new chicken program and for the building of a new teacher’s house.

After meeting with the school’s board of management it appeared that members were more focused than in the past. The immediate need is for a new double classroom and at least two staff houses. Using a mixture of conventional and bush materials can meet this need in the short term. Other projects still to be completed are the new toilets and the kitchen. The effectiveness of the school handyman is being reviewed.

Fanny Raio, a former Principal at St James and a member of the OCDP management committee, has taken a prominent part in discussions and follow-up regarding the school. With teachers paid low salaries and government assistance for training and school infrastructure very limited, there is a need for ongoing training of all those associated directly with the school.


The importance of understanding communities

Being able to understand communities in the areas in which we move is fundamental to our success or failure. To have any impact we must be able to quickly analyse blockages that may occur from those we trust and move on to alternative remedies. Changes in personnel at the school and the hospital may cause problems to programs that we assumed were operating effectively.

What we consider relatively stable institutions like the Police, the Churches and provincial leaders can be subject to external pressures that eventually impact on us.

Having a broad network of organisations and people who work and live in the province is a precious asset that we can access with confidence when important and challenging issues arise.


Fundraising

OCDP’s work has been greatly assisted during the year by a grant of $60,000 from the Oro Provincial government for the training of medical staff at Popondetta Hospital.

We have been helped by generous financial donations of varying sizes from schools and many private benefactors. These donations are never underestimated and determine the extent to which we can continue work that we believe is very important on site in PNG.

Equally important are the donations in kind. Offers of free transport both in terms of freight (the donor wishes to remain anonymous) and for the movement of training teams around the province enable us to minimise the overall costs thanks to CPL. Heavily subsidised accommodation in PNG (anonymous) is another much appreciated contribution

A Christmas drinks function held at NSW Parliament House raised $3,201 and also initiated a fundraising campaign to build a TB ward at the hospital.


Finances

During the year income of $78,928 was received and expenditure of $48,625 was incurred. In addition to cash at banks, the Rotary Overseas Aid Fund held funds totalling $38,392 at 30 June 2016 available for OCDP projects. The balance sheet showed accumulated funds of $43,343.81 represented by cash at banks of $3,709.28 (ANZ) and $39,634.53 (Westpac). 

Our accounts are audited by M J L Accounting Pty Ltd, Certified Practising Accountant Registered Tax Agent, ABN 77 003 146 987, Shop 6, 13 Kennedy Cr, Bonnet Bay NSW PO Box 4, Jannali NSW 2226,


Michael Steketee

President 15 November 2016