Kompiam Rural Hospital, operating under the Enga Baptist Health Services, provides much needed health services to the people in the rugged mountains of the Kompiam/Ambun District. Additionally, the hospital oversees and supports 9 health centres which can only be accessed by a plane or by strenuous long-hour hikes through dense jungle on narrow paths up and down the mountains. Therefore, it is very challenging for the hospital to do regular patrol visits to these health centres.
MAF PNG decided to support Kompiam Hospital in its endeavour to reach these remote communities by offering heavily subsidised regular flights. Earlier this year, a Memorandum Of Understanding was signed by Kompiam Hospital and MAF formalising this partnership.
MAF is providing transportation to medical, dental, and evangelistic teams as they reach out to these 9 locations with two flights to each area each quarter. The plan involves picking up a medical team from the hospital and dropping them at one of the remote health centres. The MAF plane returns the next day to pick up the team and drop them back at Kompiam. This is happening once every fortnight so that each health centre or aid post gets a visit each quarter. Since the dates are agreed in advance, the hospital and the respective community are able to mobilise patients for these medical and immunisation camps.
The first of these camps under the agreement took place on the 20th of March to Pyarulama. The medical team, comprised of a medical doctor, an overseas medical student, a Community Health Worker (CHW) and the hospital chaplain, was able to see a total of 116 patients including 6 antenatal mothers and 63 children in less than 24 hours and were able to do 181 vaccinations.
Pyarulama Health Patrol
Dr Rebecca Williams, who lead this first patrol reports:
“After the plane departed, the community welcomed us and we gave some announcements regarding the aerial patrols and what the plan for the day was. We saw patients throughout the whole day and because we started clinic late around 11 am we worked through lunch and continued seeing patients until around 7 pm in the night when I called a stop to the clinic.
The various aspects of the patrol were delegated to the different team members. Kompiam based CHW Lucy Jack attended to all children requiring vaccinations and all antenatal mothers. Rosemary Roberts, an overseas 5th-year medical student from the University of Oxford, did eye tests and distributed reading glasses to villagers in addition to, assisting CHW Lucy. I attended to all other patients with Matthew, the local CHW assisting with translation. Meanwhile, Pastor Jackson Minao did some training sessions with local pastors at a nearby church.
After dinner, Pastor Jackson and I set up the Jesus Film for the community to watch at the local EBC church. The film was well received by the community, in fact, the EBC church was over-crowded and some of the villagers had to stand up outside of the building.
We continued the clinic early the next morning, because there was still a large pile of health books left over from the previous day of patients we hadn’t been able to see. Finally, at 10.30am we stopped the clinic to have some breakfast, to pack up and wait for the plane to take us back to Kompiam. In the 24 hours of the clinic, we treated a total of 116 patients and gave 181 vaccinations to children, e.g. Measles Rubella, Vitamin A, Pentavalent and PCV.
We were also able to do sputum collections to take back to Kompiam to check for TB. One sick child was identified whom we brought back to Kompiam with us. We have referred them to the Provincial General Hospital at Wabag to be seen by the paediatrician. This child has returned back to Kompiam now and is doing well.“
The walking distance from Kompiam to Pyarulama is two full days, 8 hours to Lapalama and another 8 hours to Pyarulama. In contrast, the MAF flight from Kompiam to Pyarulama only takes about 10 minutes in the Cessna Caravan. Besides the convenience, comfort and safety of flying, using an aircraft also means that more equipment can be carried compared to a walking patrol, especially in regard to vaccinations which have to be stored in a cooler, to prevent a break in the cold chain.
This joint health initiative between Kompiam Hospital and MAF is going to have a major transformative impact on the healthcare and quality of life for these communities in the Enga Province. Dr David Mills, Medical Superintendent of the Enga Baptist Health Services, was pleased with the outcome of the first patrol: “The first one to Pyarulama was a huge success. The team members were seeing patients well into the night and the next day. They also managed to encourage the pastors in the area for a bit of training and showed the Jesus Film. Very very worthwhile! So thank you, MAF.“
Yenkis Health Patrol
The second patrol of this kind just happened on the 16th of April to Yenkis Health Center. Like Pyarulama it can be reached either by foot or small aircraft. To walk from Kompiam to Yenkis also takes two days.
Pastor Jackson Minao is also the management chairman of the Enga Baptist Health Services, and also took part in this second patrol. He summarised the recent work:
“On behalf of the Management team of the Enga Baptist Health Services [we] would take this time to “THANK” MAF for providing vast services to our remote communities in our health centre settings.
Our focus areas are the remote communities and we have been heavily depending on MAF since the commencement of this hospital [at Kompiam]. Since then MAF had just recently come up with very productive idea of chartering MAF for us to go out every fortnight to provide and extend our health services to our every health centre settings where there is an airstrip.
In the last month fortnight, MAF has flown us to Pyarulama with the Medical team and we worked all day until 7:30 pm and still, the patients were lining up, so we told them to come back again next day until the plane arrives. More patients were seen and treated.
Just a day after yesterday, on the 17th to 18th of this month, we flew down to Yenkis and we have treated a lot. It will take pages to go into more detail, so I would like to insert some photos as an evidence base for the work that has been done in Yenkis.
We thank MAF for providing services, making our access easy to visit our health centres to minimise the endemic that is affecting our people. Our Good Lord will not forget every single thing we do to help. All things we do for Christ’s sake will be rewarded accordingly. Your ceaseless support in the years to come will be highly appreciated.“
This is truly why we do what we do as MAF: assisting our partners to overcome barriers on the ground to bring hope, help and healing to those people living in the remote and hard to reach corners of this beautiful country.
Mandy Glass. Photos Rebecca Williams (RW), Jackson Minao (JM)