Essential health care is again starting to reach one of the most remote regions in Western Province thanks to an initiative emphasising the vast Lake Murray area of Middle Fly District.
Part of this began with an intensive collaborative patrol conducted earlier in the year by Middle Fly District Health Services (MFDHS), YWAM Medical Ships – Australia & PNG (YWAM MS), The Leprosy Mission, and Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). The Provincial Health Office and South Fly District Health Services also assisted with logistical support. The patrol parties combined their personnel and resources to deliver immunisations, family planning, dental care, health education and leprosy screening to almost 2000 patients in 15 villages over 11 days. Middle Fly District Health Manager, Mr Kimsy Waiwa, said the patrol was a fantastic team effort.
“Lake Murray is one of the most under-reached regions in our province in part due to its isolation and logistical challenges when it comes to delivering healthcare. “We called on the help of our partners to work with us to make the patrol possible. The combination of everyone’s strengths helped achieve a great result – we are motivated to make sure this is the start of more regular patrols to the region in the future,” said Mr Waiwa.
When the team arrived, they found that the demand for services in the area was even greater than they had anticipated. “The patrol served as a way to get a much more accurate picture of the health service requirements in the region and how we can best respond in an ongoing way through both future patrols and infrastructure. It was a very important visit,” said Mr Waiwa. As a result of the visit, a local contractor has since been bought in to undertake essential upkeep on the Boboa Health Centre, helping to serve the area.
One of the challenges identified in Lake Murray was leprosy. Treatment was provided to 31 previously confirmed cases, and 22 new cases were identified. Each patient diagnosed was started on treatment and registered with the local health centre. Among the patients included three children under 15. In-service training on diagnosis and treatment for leprosy was also provided for local health workers. Mr Waiwa said it was also important to connect with the handful of local health workers stationed in the area.
“The opportunity to connect and provide in-service training was vital. We were also able to deliver various medical supplies and resources. The patrol helped give them a boost with the reassurance that more help is on its way,” said Mr Kimsy. A follow-up team was deployed this week and are currently working to serve the far reaches of Lake Murray over an extended two-week patrol. A total of seven collaborative patrols between Middle Fly District Health Services and YWAM MS are planned across various catchments of the Middle Fly District in 2019. Annual activity plans for 2020 are also being formulated.