The YWAM Training and Medical ship, MV YWAM PNG, assisted in the second round of the polio immunisation campaign that began in Morobe Province this month. Working in collaboration with the Morobe Provincial, Finschhafen and Nawaeb District Health authorities, the ship deployed multiple healthcare teams to coastal and inland villages, with each team armed with oral polio vaccinations (OPVs).
The MV YWAM PNG arrived in PNG in late July, just as round two of the vaccination campaign was forming. Director of Family Health Services for Morobe Province, Ms Patricia Mitiel Gahanao, was eager to involve YWAM Medical Ships in round two of the drive.
“I said, ‘please can you come join us for the drive,’” said Ms Mitiel Gahanao, “Together we started the oral polio vaccine drive in Finschhafen, then we went to Nawaeb.
“We had all modes of transport – vehicles, dinghies, and a chopper,”
Mr Silven Umbi, the District Environmental Health Officer for Finschhafen District, said YWAM’s extra manpower was welcome, as the vaccine drive often demanded lengthy trips to isolated areas.
“The logistical demanding circumstances of this serious outbreak and long bouts of heavy rain made reaching some villages very difficult. Together with YWAM Medical Ships unique mobility and the local provincial health authorities strong partnership, we were able to combine our strengths and coordinate a streamlined response,” said Mr Matthew Scott, MV YWAM PNG, Ship Manager.
Two of the ship’s healthcare teams took helicopters into Makini and Mindik, staying overnight to deliver the OPVs, as well as maternal health services, health education, and outpatient services. Other teams took boats and 4WD vehicles to 19 other villages.
The teams also provided the isolated villages with other healthcare and training services, including optometry, dentistry, maternal and child health services, health education, diagnostic services, and collegial support for local healthcare workers, and Community Health Worker (CHW) students.
Over 60 healthcare workers from Braun Hospital, Morobe Provincial Health, Finschhafen and Nawaeb Districts joined for the patrol, including HEO’s, nurses, midwives, CHW’s, lab technicians, a refraction worker and a dentist. 49 CHW students also participated in health education sessions. Together the teams treated over 4,000 patients overall.
Volunteers from 19 countries made the ship’s mobilisation possible, with around 50% of those volunteers hailing from PNG.
Supporters of YWAM Medical Ships work in PNG include: PNG National Government, Puma Energy, Australian Aid, Henry Schein Halas, Steamships Trading Company, Network Communications, Morobe, Gulf, Western, Central, Oro and Milne Bay Provincial Governments, Lions Recycle for Sight, Port of Townsville, New Britain Palm Oil, Manolos Aviation, AkzoNobel, Gearbox Solutions, National Fisheries Authority PNG, PNG Ports Corporation, Sohe District Development Authority, Kiriwina-Goodenough District Development Authority, 1300SMILES, Honeycombes Property Development Group, Parkside Group, Haymans, Townsville City Council, Ela Motors, Ports North, Luminell, Northern Management Group, Lancini Property & Development, Mitsubishi Electric, Coutts Redington, Medical Dental Solutions, Pacific Islands International, Stanley Hotel and Suites, Pro-Ma Systems, Pacific Marine Group, Universal Cranes, Rotarians Against Malaria, Townsville Bulletin, Alcon, Mun Global, Sentry Medical, Hu-Friedy, Climatrol Air Conditioning, Alphapharm, GE Healthcare, BuzzOff, NQ Cowboys, Wilson Ryan Grose Lawyers, PwC, Trukai, Days for Girls, Septodont, Mocom Australia and Air Niugini.
Photo caption: Morobe Provincial Health Nurse and YWAM Patrol team member, Helen Posah, gives the OPV to a child.