Story by Ann Hallett, Director of Nursing & Midwifery Services at the Enga Baptist Health Services at Kompiam District Hospital. Photos by Ann Hallett (AH) and Mandy Glass (MG)
Thank you to MAF for being so willing to partner with Kompiam District Hospital to make outreach visits to the remotest parts of Papua New Guinea possible. Our recent visit to Malaumanda included a team of six, two medical students, our pastor, our dental technician, our midwife and myself. We were warmly welcomed by the people of Malaumanda. It is such a blessing to provide health care to a people who are so grateful to receive it. Enga Baptist Health Services vision is “Believing God and Serving Holistically.” This regular clinic flight initiative with MAF allows this vision to be expanded and fulfilled.
On the 31st of July, we were greeted by many people who live at Malaumanda. People from nearby continued to come well into the night and the next morning.
Public Health Awareness and Immunisation
Public Health Awareness was given by Sr Anneth Pykali, Kompiam District Hospital Officer In Charge of the Maternal Child Health Program. This included discussing hand hygiene, general hygiene and Immunisation.
Receiving immunisation is valued by the people of Malaumanda. Measles is endemic in PNG. Vaccination levels are low, and there are regular outbreaks of this preventable disease. Ideally, immunisation for measles begins under the age of one year. Timely measles vaccination was given to 27 children under the age of one year. Catch up measles vaccinations were given to 135 people over the age of one year.
Tetanus boosters were given to 168 people. Tetanus is not spread from person to person and there is no protection through herd immunity. The bacteria are found in soil and human and animal faeces. The bacteria may contaminate puncture wounds such as animal bites, cuts, burns and complicated fractures. It’s the only vaccine-preventable disease that is infectious but not contagious.
Vitamin A is essential for eye health. Therefore, Vitamin A supplementation was given to 206 children.
Worms are also endemic in areas of Papua New Guinea. One of the most common side effects of worms is anaemia, thus worm tablets were given to 168 children.
On top of that, 135 routine immunisations for preventable diseases such as whooping cough, pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus and polio were given to children under one.
Ten women came for antenatal care. Five of these women were in their last four weeks of pregnancy. This was their first antenatal visit. Some had complications of pregnancy and were encouraged to come to Kompiam District Hospital for birth. There was space on the charter to bring one woman in her last two weeks of pregnancy with her seventh baby. She also was being treated for TB and had an extensive skin disease. All six of her previous baby’s were born at home.
The following week, after the clinic, one of these antenatal women, with a breech presentation came to sit at the Kompiam District Hospital’s waiting house. Women who had barriers to coming to Kompiam were given antiseptic, clean gauze, a pair of gloves and a sterile blade. The local Village Health Volunteer who is trained in the “Safe Motherhood Program,” was refreshed on the skills required for assisting mothers to birth their babies. Now that we know that there is a Village Health Volunteer at Malaumanda, on our next visit to Malaumanda with MAF, we will bring the birthing kits supplied by Birthing Kit Foundation Australia. They will be given to the Village Health Volunteer to assist with a clean and safe birth.
Medical and Spiritual Care
There were 110 other people seen for medical care. Common diseases included malaria, anaemia, malnutrition and skin disease.
Our Dental Technician, Mr Peter Poko, assisted many villagers with toothaches.
Pastor Lawa spoke at length with the people of Malaumanda about the Christian faith. They chatted back and forth for some time in the evening and again the next day.
The time of our visit was gone all too soon. As the plane landed the next morning we were finishing the last of the child health checks and immunisations. Women were asking for access to long-acting contraception. MAF pilots waited patiently whilst two women received access to an implant under their skin which provides five years of contraception.
Community members asked us to “please” stay two days next time and not to forget about them. We assured them we would not forget about them and their delightful welcome. It was a pleasure to provide health care to such a grateful community.