The National, Wednesday 25th July, 2012
By SALLY TIWARI
TRAINING and increasing the number of health workers in rural areas is the way forward to bringing health services closer to the people, an expert says.
Australian Doctors International (ADI) marketing and communications manager Leah Boonthanom said volunteer doctors who carried out patrols in the remote areas were mainly focused on promoting clinical care.
She said training of local community health workers would ensure that health services were carried on after the volunteers left.“The best approach to health care in PNG would be working as part of an integrated team that incorporates capacity building as a major goal,” she said.
This meant strengthening skills, competencies and abilities of people and communities so they could overcome the causes of their exclusion and suffering.ADI has been in PNG since 2000, previously in Western province and later in New Ireland.“We consider our work in New Ireland a success because of the great support we received from the provincial government, Namatanai LLG and Newcrest Mining,” Boonthanom said.
She said with more support, they were able to take a bigger team, including specialists such as an eye nurse, TB expert and Pap smear nurse, into the remote region.
She said many of the locals in the outer islands of New Ireland were unable to seek medical help because of high transportation costs.“If the services don’t go to them, than it’s difficult for them to access these services,” she said.“Some of them even say health service is the only service reaching them through ADI.”
ADI currently has two volunteer doctors in the province – Dr Romany Topsfield at Namatanai district hospital, and Dr Rosemary Lee, who would be carrying out monthly patrols with a team of specialists, into rural New Ireland.