By Hope Imaka – EM TV Online
Youth With A Mission Medical Ships, MV Pacific Link and the MV YWAM PNG, are halfway through a successful outreach season in the Southern Region and the Madang province of Papua New Guinea.
Beginning operations in January of 2016, the MV YWAM PNG and the MV Pacific Link, have both treated a total of 19,000 patients in over 102 villages. Field activities conducted include 14,569 immunisations, 2,550 dental procedures, 48 eyes surgeries and a total of 61 local healthcare workers up-skilled.
The MV Pacific Link, (a former Japanese shipping boat) had been retired in 2015 coming towards the end of the program’s fourth year. However due to the demand for rural medical services, was redeployed in early January 2016, as a forerunner for the marine based services in Madang Province.
YWAM Medical Ships Managing Director, Mr Ken Mulligan, said that it was wonderful to have two vessels serving at once in PNG.
“I’m really thrilled with the success of the last four months; thousands of people in remote areas have been directly impacted. It has given us an excellent picture of what could be as we progress toward the vision of having at least three large ships operating around the coastal and island regions of PNG.
“The MV Pacific Link is serving as a forerunner toward that next phase; our goal is to replace her with a much larger vessel within the next few years, before we work toward acquiring another vessel to serve in the PNG Islands region,” said Mulligan.
While the MV Pacific Link serves in Karkar Island, the YWAM PNGwill sail to Goodenough Bay and Woodlark Island, Milne Bay Province to deliver primary health care, dentistry, optometry and health education.
To date, over 400 volunteers from 16 nations have served abroad the YWAM vessels, including over 90 Papua New Guineas.
“The outreaches really have been a collaborative effort, in addition to the hundreds of volunteers that have joined us from around the world, provincial health officers, local health workers and Papua New Guinean medical students and marine cadets have joined us for the outreaches.
“The operations of this vessel are funded by families, individuals, corporates and government. For the ships to operate it is contingent on expanding it’s funding base – every dollar invested gives maximum return because of the volunteers. All of our staff are volunteers including myself as Managing Director,” said Mulligan.
The MV Pacific Link arrived at Karkar Island, Madang Province, over the weekend where a team under the leadership of Mr Brett Curtis will perform cataract and pterygium surgeries in the vessel’s onboard clinic in collaboration with Fred Hollows Foundation.
“During our last voyage to Karkar Island, 143 candidates for surgery were identified by our optometry team, we are really pleased to be returning to Karkar with a Fred Hollows’ ophthalmology team onboard.
“This upcoming patrol is a classic example of the good outcomes that can be achieved when organisations work together – it’s wonderful to be united around the goal to restore sight,” said Curtis.
Both the MV YWAM PNG and the MV Pacific Link will serve in PNG until the end of June before undergoing further maintenance and renovations.
Supporters of YWAM Medical Ships include the PNG National Government, Australian Aid, Puma Energy, Steamships Trading Company, InterOil, Western, Gulf, Central, Milne Bay, Oro, Morobe and Madang Provincial Governmen’s, PNG Ports Corporation, Rotarians Against Malaria, Niugini Heliworks and Pro-Ma Systems.