Alotau residents have welcomed a special vessel alongside their Provincial Wharf this week – the YWAM Training and Medical Ship, MV Pacific Link on its maiden voyage into the province. The vessel and its volunteer team from 9 nations (including PNG) are partnering with Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority (MBPHA) over the next fortnight to assist with medical services both in Alotau and on Kiriwina Island in the Trobriand group.
Activities will include ophthalmic (eye) surgery, dentistry, optometry and primary health care work as well as health promotion and peer support for local health professionals.
Mr. Ken Mulligan, Managing Director, explained that this is likely to be the last outreach voyage for the retiring ship which is planned to be replaced in 2015 by the MV Ammari, a larger and more equipped vessel.
“The Ammari will increase our activities by 500% and allow us to engage with many more communities. It is exciting, though, to be able to conduct this pilot voyage into Milne Bay with the retiring vessel as we strengthen partnerships and plan for the future.”
A welcoming ceremony was held this morning with Governor Titus Philemon, MBPHA CEO, Mr. Billy Naidi, and local churches among a list of distinguished guests.
Governor Philemon said, “Working effectively with partners is vital as we move service delivery forward so it is a great pleasure to welcome YWAM Medical Ships to Milne Bay today”.
Mr. Naidi further explained that this pilot voyage is the next step in implementing the MoU signed between the PHA and YWAM earlier this year.
“We are very hopeful of building this strategic relationship into the future that will be of particular benefit to our people in isolated areas”, he said.
The fundraising campaign, dubbed ‘Overcoming the Impossible’, continues for YWAM as the December 4th deadline for securing purchase of the replacement vessel, MV Ammari, approaches. The Department of National Planning has already contributed 4 million PGK toward the ship’s deposit. Communities in PNG, Australia and elsewhere have also been giving and a range of corporates and governmental agencies are also considering their contributions. A buyer has yet to be sourced for the outgoing MV Pacific Link.
Mr. Mulligan thanked Milne Bay Provincial Government, MBPHA, Steamships Shipping Ltd, InterOil, PNG Ports Ltd and National Department of Health for their support in making the current outreach voyage possible, alongside local Alotau business houses and the Milne Bay church community.
For further enquires (including photographs) please contact Dr. Sarah Dunn, 7283 7669, firstname.lastname@example.org