Activities during the year
We marked our tenth year working in Oro Province as an Australian-PNG charity with the completion of our most significant project: the construction of a building to house a TB ward at Popondetta Hospital. This was identified as the highest priority in a review we conducted of the hospital in 2015 because of the critical need to isolate patients with this highly infectious disease, particularly with the emergence of drug resistant strains. Another major achievement has been the training we are providing through volunteers to medical staff both employed by the hospital and working at other facilities, including outlying aid posts.
These milestones are attributable wholly to the generous support we receive from donors and to the skills, experience and time provided to us by experts on a wholly voluntary basis. Papua New Guinea faces many problems and challenges. But we have shown that we can make a difference that can be measured in lives saved, illness treated and a better education for children.
We undertook three visits during the year to monitor the construction of the TB ward and to provide medical training.
On the first visit from 27 August to 1 September 2017, the team included two highly experienced midwives who had experience working in Papua New Guinea and also with Medecins Sans Frontieres. Over two days, training was conducted for over 25 medical staff in maternal health at the hospital and for employees of medical centres spread throughout the south-east of Oro Province. A separate day was devoted to the training of 18 staff at health centres and aid posts operated by New Britain Palm Oil. The expertise and enthusiasm of the trainers inspired participants, whose written assessments contained many positive comments, including a strong desire for further training opportunities. A key to the success of these training days was the support provided by the hospital training team who recruited participants and helped with the complex arrangements for travel by land and sea. Their efforts were reinforced by detailed preparations by the OCDP team including providing kits of practical material for use in clinics. Participants who completed the sessions were each given OCDP certificates.
During this visit there was a meeting with the superviser responsible for the construction of the TB ward. Dr Petrus Opum, acting CEO of Popondetta Hospital, undertook to give urgent attention to infection control and the management of the emergency and outpatient ward.
During the second visit from 7-10 November 2017, the focus was on inspecting progress on the TB ward, with detailed discussions on issues such as ventilation, toilet facilities and security. Meetings were held with Dr Giara, who will assume general responsibility for the day-to-day staffing and management of the TB ward. Both Dr Giara and Dr Gunzee Gawin, the hospital’s CEO and a member of our board, expressed great enthusiasm for the contribution that the TB ward will make to the operation of the hospital.
There was also a meeting with the Governor of Oro Province, Gary Juffa, whose strong support for our work has been vital.
On the third visit from 25 February to 2 March 2018, the OCDP medical team included an international expert on TB who has led a successful training program in TB control for doctors at Daru Hospital in Western province. Daru became a hotspot for multi-drug resistant TB which also has been detected in Oro Province. The emphasis in the training of staff at the hospital was on the effective treatment of patients suffering from TB with a particular focus on how to accurately use the TB Ward.
The OCDP contribution to Popondetta Hospital has proven to be a very important one, particularly given the unreliability of funding, resulting in difficulties in the delivery of medical services.
We continue to support St James Primary School however our immediate focus during the year has been on urgent health matters at Popondetta General Hospital.
The Management Committee
All existing members of the management committee were re-elected at the annual general meeting held on 26 October 2017.
President – Mike Steketee
Vice-president – Chris Duncan
Secretary – Emily Kleinig
Treasurer – Peter Thomas
Public Officer – Andrew White
Committee – Lisa Montgomery, Gunzee Gawin, Fanny Raio.
We are indebted to the members of the Management Committee who take on this responsibility to ensure the operation of OCDP meets expectations both operational and financial. They ensure that training teams travelling to PNG are able to carry out the required tasks and their safety and overall welfare is accorded the highest priority.
The work of OCDP is underwritten by many friends who donate funds of varying amounts. Each donation is very important and valued. There are others who provide assistance in kind and this often makes our presence in PNG more secure.
We believe our training teams provide a service of the highest order. They are talented and able to connect in both a sensitive and inclusive manner. There is much preparation undertaken before a visit to PNG to ensure that materials and aids used in the presentations will be useful. We thank all team members who generously donate their time and expertise.
10 September 2018