Townsville Doctor Changes Lives in PNG | YWAM Ships

Townsville Doctor Changes Lives in PNG

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Volunteer, Stephanie Kanagy helps Yamu, a PNG woman who received cataract surgery

Volunteer, Stephanie Kanagy helps Yamu, a PNG woman who received cataract surgery

Youth with a Mission (YWAM) Medical Ships  – Australia (MSA) just completed their latest outreach in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Townsville’s local ophthalmologist, Dr. Bill Talbot, again joined the YWAM MSA team for the two-week outreach (June 20th – July 7th).

Dr. Bill performed 37 operations, mostly cataracts, over the two-week period.

Many individuals travelled great distances to meet with Dr. Bill and the YWAM MSA team, such as John Mark (19). John Mark was flown by a group of missionaries from Kotadanga, which is in the northern region of Gulf Province, in order to have the cataract surgery performed.

These ophthalmology surgeries have proved to be life changing for the many individuals who had the surgery performed as well as their families and their village.

YWAM Medical Ship volunteer ophthalmologist, Dr Bill Talbot, performs cataract surgery

YWAM Medical Ship volunteer ophthalmologist, Dr Bill Talbot, performs cataract surgery

“It is what’s set in motion in these people’s lives which makes every minute worth it,” says Dr Bill Talbot.

Poea had an advanced cataract in her right eye, while also being completely blind in the both eyes due to a past injury, rendering her sight minimal to none.

Poea, a mother of four, first noticed a cataract had begun to develop in her right eye over 15 years ago. Due to a lack of funds, an operation to remove the cataract was a distant dream for Poea and the many others like her.

“It was very difficult for me and my little children…if they were in trouble I could hear them calling for me but I was not able to do anything,” says Poea.

Due to her lack of vision Poea could never be left alone, when completing daily tasks she has to be led around her village by one of her children.

On the 3rd of July Poea had the cataract from her right eye removed. The day after the operation Poea’s sight had already drastically improved. When being assessed in ‘post op’ Poea was able to recognize light and movement from six metres away – something she had not been able to do for over almost ten years.

While other eye disease limited the improvement of her vision, the positive impact on her life was incredible. She was able to see the face of her one-year-old son for the first time.

“Before I could only think and walk…now I can see and walk again! I can do things on my own. I’ve regained my independence,” says Poea.

YWAM MSA is actively helping to develop communities in PNG through addressing health care and training needs, alongside the priorities and vision of the PNG National Health Plan and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Yamu climbing up the steps to her home

Yamu climbing up the steps to her home

For four years YWAM MSA has been implementing its various programs through its Medical Ship as well through land-based teams, which reach out to communities in rural PNG.

YWAM MSA offers a range of clinics including dental, optometry, ophthalmology, primary health care as well as community development initiatives, which focused on training for the general community and rural health workers. Since 2010, YWAM MSA has achieved 129,109 outputs.

YWAM MSA will be conducting four more outreaches in 2013. One outreach will run in Port Moresby from July 21st – 29th. During this outreach, YWAM MSA will be running optometry clinics in association with Brien Holden Vision Institute Branch, PNG Eye Care at Kila Kila Urban Clinic from 9am-4pm on Monday, 22 July, Thursday, 25 July and Friday, 26 July. YWAM MSA will then conduct three more outreaches in the Western Province from August – September in association with the Western Provincial Government. They are currently accepting registrations for optometrists, dentists, dental assistants, doctors, midwives, physiotherapists, and orthoptists.

YWAM MSA’s outreaches in the Gulf Province was helped made possible through its partners, Steamships Trading Company, InterOil, National Department of Health, Gulf Provincial Government, Rotarians Against Malaria, Alcon Australia, Carl Zeiss, Henry Schein Halas, 1300 SMILES, Honeycombes Property Group, Port of Townsville, Townsville Bulletin, Lions Australia, Network Communications, NQ Cowboys and AEC Group.


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