PHOTO FILE: YWAM team treks to remote village in Western Province.
YWAM Medical Ships Australia & Papua New Guinea (YWAM MS) deployed two land-based teams to remote communities in Middle and South Fly Districts for collaborative health patrols.
The teams, made up of volunteer nurses, midwives, and rural healthcare students, represent 7 different nations, five of the health workers are from PNG.
To maximise community reach, YWAM personnel are woprking in collaboration with local health workers, Western Provincial Health Authority, PNG Sustainable Development Program (SDP), Australian Aid, and World Vision. The collaboration has included additional human resources, logistical support, provision of supplies, and funding.
Together the teams deliver childhood immunizations, antenatal checks and outpatient services and also support COVID-19 response by providing rural communities access to the vaccine.
YWAM MS team leader and nurse, Ms Angelica Langlais, who is currently leading a team in Mabudawan, South Fly District said, childhood vaccinations have unfortunately plummeted during the pandemic, exposing thousands of children to deadly preventable diseases. Patrols have been focused on not only supporting the COVID response, but also strengthening the delivery of other vital health services that have been interrupted.
“There are significant challenges when it comes to delivering healthcare to these remote communities – transport, cold chain, provision of supplies, communication, and accessibility are just a few of the obstacles that have had to be overcome.
“Together with our partners we’ve been able to pool resources together to find creative solutions and it’s been well worth the effort,” said Ms Langlais.
YWAM MS’ second team is currently serving communities along the Bamu River in Middle Fly District. In addition to providing mother and child health services and the COVID vaccine, the team is working with the district to respond to a serious malaria outbreak that has hit the region.
CEO of Western Provincial Health Authority, Dr Niko Wuatai, said he was grateful for YWAM MS’ support.
“I’m delighted with what has been achieved as the YWAM MS volunteers have returned to join our team in Western Province. The ground covered over these past couple of months working alongside local health workers and other partners has been a big boost, especially during such a challenging time as we navigate the pandemic.
“It highlights to me the importance of coming together around a challenge – I’m grateful for all those who have been willing to join us in the battles we continually face when it comes to delivering healthcare to rural areas. There is more to achieve together as we look forward, said Dr Wuatai.
Over the past six weeks YWAM MS’ teams participated in patrols alongside district and church health teams that administered more than 5,200 routine immunizations for children and over 700 Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 immunizations for adults across 85 villages.
YWAM MS is also in the process of establishing a base in Port Moresby that will serve as a vocational training campus, and a hub for outreach services across the nation. The centre will help YWAM MS expand their work across PNG, including deploying additional teams to remote communities.