The MV YWAM PNG has the privilege of collaborating with Braun Memorial Hospital in Finschhafen District, Morobe Province for the first few weeks of August. The 120-bed hospital serves patients from two districts, as well as hosts a community health worker (CHW) school.
The MV YWAM PNG’s teams worked on shore with the hospital throughout the first week. Doctors Sebastian and Stella Freudenberg, Braun’s married surgical team, said YWAM’s presence boosted local morale. “For the hospital, it was really great for the people to have the feeling that the outside world is interested in them,” said Dr Stella Freudenberg.
The teams partnered with Braun’s staff on multiple levels. Philemon Theophil, Braun’s optometrist, joined the ship’s optometry clinic for the two-week outreach. Similarly, hospital dentist Ben Sunga served with YWAM’s dentistry clinic. Collaborating with another dentist was a first for Sunga as he has worked as Braun’s only dentist for the past 30 years.
Braun’s senior laboratory technician, Nick Gaunedi, trained with the ship’s lab team. He enjoyed his training on the ship’s Genexpert, which tests for tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis. Said Gaunedi, “I’m excited to collaborate with other people in the world.”
The collaboration stretched beyond the three joining the ship. For the MV YWAM PNG’s first week in Finschhafen, 49 CHW students joined the ship’s community engagement teams, trekking to eight villages to offer health education on a range of topics, including tuberculosis, hygiene and malaria. Benson Ipana, a first year CHW student, felt the partnership was invaluable. “I’ve learned new things about teaching and health education,” said Ipana.
The hospital’s pharmacy technician, surgeons, physiotherapist, and health extension officer also worked with the ship’s healthcare teams throughout the week.
Melissa Kauk, the ship’s clinic manager, said the collaboration has been mutually beneficial. “We were able to come and give upskilling to a lot of the midwives, CHWs, lab workers, and their physio, and teach them new things — and they were able to teach us, too,” said Kauk.
In light of the recent polio outbreak in Morobe, the importance of Braun’s services has only grown. In the upcoming week, YWAM Medical Ships will assist Braun and local health officials with the second phase of the vaccination campaign. Dr Sebastian Freudenberg said YWAM’s additional manpower will aid the campaign’s goal of 100% vaccination coverage.