The Aerial Health Patrol (AHP), a health initiative launched by PNG Sustainable Development Program Limited (SDP) in July 2019 provides primary health care services including vaccinations, family planning, maternal health, WASH programs and out-patient clinics to remote communities in Western Province.
Each patrol team is staffed with seven experienced health professionals. They are supported by a base team, as well as a backup team, to maintain the service continuously, on a rotational basis. During the first seven months, AHP patrols visited 11 hard-to-reach communities on a regular basis, flown in on a dedicated aircraft purchased by SDP and piloted by MAF.
To facilitate this initiative, SDP has funded an airstrip maintenance program and partnered with Marie Stopes and Sago Network. Early this year SDP paid a deposit for a second aircraft which will be delivered towards the end of the year. AHP has also launched a second patrol team that had been visiting another 10 airstrip communities. In due course all 70 airstrip communities will be serviced by six patrols transported by two dedicated aircraft.
However, things have been put on hold with the current state of emergency lockdown on March 24. Rather than seeing this as a setback, the temporarily grounded AHP teams quickly redirected their efforts to supporting the Balimo Hospital by providing targeted health services, and support as part of a joint Government-led COVID-19 response under the leadership of Deputy Provincial Administrator, Mr Rupert Tabua.
The taskforce team comprises 18 personnel from a cross section of Balimo-based stakeholders, including ECPNG Health Services, government departments, World Vision, community leaders, and business partners.
Mr. Tabua said: “Together we achieve more. An individual broom stick cannot sweep the floor, a lot of broom sticks combined will sweep and clean the floor well.”
“Cooperation and unity are the utmost need within all stakeholders in this difficult and uncertain times.”