More than 50 village health volunteers in the Kokoda Track region completed a week-long training on how to provide basic healthcare services to persons with disabilities.
The training was conducted by Callan Services Unit for Persons with Disability last month at Sogeri, Kokoda, and in Northern Province.
Village health volunteers (VHVs) in the Kokoda Track region are ready to conduct disability assessments following training on how to provide basic healthcare services to persons with disabilities. It was supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea through the Kokoda Initiative Partnership.
The Village Health Volunteers were shown how to identify disabilities and refer patients for specialised examination and rehabilitation. They were also trained on how to detect hearing and vision impairments, and other physical disabilities using identification techniques which include visual assessments and questionnaires.
Callan’s national ear and eye trainer BrotherDesmond Taboeya said the VHVs will be the frontline volunteers working to assist people with disabilities in their communities.
“Village health volunteers are in the communities and on the track – they are the ones to identify, detect and make referrals,” Desmond said.
“The early approach will give people with disabilities a chance to receive services so they can exercise their potential and contribute meaningfully to society like any other person.”
He said the training was essential for the VHVs who will lead assessments in the region, including for children at local schools.
“The remote nature and difficult terrain along the Kokoda Track present significant challenges for communities to access disability support services,” Br Desmond said.
“There is an opportunity for VHVs to connect teachers and health workers with improved disability support services through the Kokoda Initiative and its extensive network in schools, health centres, and villages.”
The training followed a disability survey conducted across the Kokoda Track last year, which provided information on the prevalence of disabilities and disability issues in regional communities.
Br Desmond said the survey identified gaps in disability support services which present significant challenges for communities and persons with disabilities.
The Kokoda Initiative Partnership supports more than 80 VHVs who work to improve health services and the wellbeing of people and communities in the Kokoda Track region.
The disability assessment training will be used to assess the potential for comprehensive training for health workers.
Callan Services works with the Kokoda Initiative through its maternal and child health patrols to do disability assessment services across the 90 Track villages, screening, and testing across 60 schools and 14 health facilities which are supported by the Kokoda Initiative, connecting health workers, teachers, and village health volunteers with improved disability services.