HPE Masters student Kirsty Haywood recently travelled to Papua New Guinea to volunteer her nursing, midwifery and health education skills in the remote Oro province. Her trip was supported by the ANF Humanitarian Aid fund. Health professionals from around Australia provided primary health care to 860 patients with a variety of conditions during the seven day outreach program.
Rough sea conditions can mean a 2-6 hour paddle in outrigger canoes for villagers to access the Tufu Health Clinic. Twice a year during the rougher months, No Roads Health provide an outreach service to the outer remote villages. They also invest in local people, providing basic health care education to local Village Birth Attendants (VBAs) and Village Health Volunteers (HVAs).
During the outreach program, the volunteer health professionals found their clinical assessment skills rapidly sharpened with the lack of diagnostic tools at their disposal. They worked as a team, brainstorming to determine diagnoses and treatment options, drawing on their collective clinical experience. The local VBAs and HVAs shadowed the activities of the outreach program and readily absorbed knowledge.
Kirsty would highly recommend the No Roads Health outreach program to other health professionals. Her experience was highly rewarding but moreover, highly necessary given the current crisis situation in PNG health, with much greater support needed at a local village level.