Last week, the PNG Sustainable Development Program (SDP) recommenced its Aerial Health Patrols to provide primary health care to remote Western Province communities. The service had been interrupted by the State of Emergency. This time, a three-day patrol visited the Morehead Health Centre, located close to the Indonesian border.
The small team of three nurses who work there was particularly grateful to have the AHP team in their community. “After so many years, this was an answer to our prayers, finally someone has come to help us,” said Sister Guma, Officer-in-Charge at the Morehead Health Centre.
“We had heard about COVID-19 of course, but we were confused, and very afraid. We had no masks but we knew we had to keep ourselves safe. So everyone stayed in their houses,” she said.
“Since the lockdown when people got sick, they came and stood outside on the road, and the only advice we could offer was by shouting backwards and forwards. If we did have a drug to help them, we had to leave it on the steps to be collected later,” she added.
The AHP team flew in urgently needed face masks, drugs, vaccines, hand sanitizers and soap, snakebite bandages and anti-venom. The urgently required supplies were delivered by AHP’s seven-member patrol team. These medical and health professionals conducted clinics, provided training (e.g. snake bite treatment); and delivered a comprehensive community awareness program to help tackle the COVID-19 risk of personal infection.
Sister Guma said the visit provided a huge boost to the whole community with AHP team working with community leaders, the nurses and the school.
The AHP HEO provided advice and medicines to patients with long-standing chronic complaints. They also provided referrals to Daru Hospital for use after the lockdown.