Keeping communities healthy in PNG
During a global pandemic where health facilities are stretched, it is easy for COVID-19 to draw the focus away from other critical elements of primary healthcare. In the remote Kokoda Track region of PNG, a group of dedicated Community Health Workers (CHWs) are committed to ensuring their communities stay safe and well from all health risks, including those posed by the virus.
CHWs are the lifeblood of the rural health system in PNG, providing primary healthcare in remote areas. This includes life-saving immunisations to babies and children, pre-natal and post-natal care to pregnant women and new mothers, and access to vital medicines and drugs including treatment for malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) NGO KTF (Kokoda Track Foundation) supports a network of 15 health facilities dotted across the catchment area of the historic Kokoda Track. These facilities provide training, upskilling and critical medical supplies, including COVID-19 hygiene supplies and awareness materials to enable CHWs to continue providing primary healthcare to a population of 40,000+.
Hannington is a CHW at Kinjaki, Oro Province. He believes that prevention is better than cure. To spread his prevention message in the early stages on the pandemic, Hannington completed a three-week COVID-19 awareness patrol to all 22 villages in his catchment area.
At his facility, Hannington has a broad range of conditions that require treatment, including malaria and suspected TB cases, childhood infections like diarrhoea, and injury from accidents sustained during garden work and other manual labour. He also conducts pre-natal and post-natal clinics.
To ensure he is providing the best level of care to his community, Hannington updates his skills where possible, recently journeying across the province to attend a two-week family planning training course at Kokoda Memorial Hospital.
With CHWs like Hannington committed to providing essential healthcare, not even a pandemic is going to stop them from supporting the health and wellbeing of their communities.