Rural health centre gets facelift

The Morehead Health Centre in its current state.

MOREHEAD Health Centre in South Fly District of Western will be getting a major facelift, thanks to a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement between PNG Sustainable Development Program Limited (SDP) and the provincial health authority.
This initiative is closely aligned to the National Health Plan to improve service delivery for rural communities.
The existing Morehead Health Centre has two standalone buildings. These buildings have deteriorated over the years due to a lack of maintenance and have also missed out on regular drug supplies. What is currently there cannot support an adequate Level 3 health service facility requirement, and that involves having an inpatient ward, first aid treatment room, outpatient care, and a labour ward or birthing house facility.
Some 12 months ago, SDP signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Western Provincial Health Authority (WPHA) to help improve the situation by upgrading the facilities and providing some experienced health professionals to support the few dedicated staff left at the health centre.
It was not an easy task but one that was necessary. With a good partnership, SDP worked with the WPHA to agree on the requirements, commissioned the basic design work, obtained approvals from the National Department of Health (NDoH), and recruited a doctor and hospital administrator. They are now in the process of contracting the work.

The present birthing house getting cleaned and prepared for use.

However, all these have taken time and the community has continued to suffer. So, a few weeks ago, the SDP team swung into action with the Morehead Health Centre staff to make a difference.
They set out to work on cleaning and refurbishing another existing building, which is a separate standalone building to the health centre, turning it into a birthing house. Work on that birthing house was completed in two weeks and welcomed its first birth soon after. It has since had its second birth from a high-risk mother with 18 mothers booked for antenatal check-ups.
“The birthing house is very good for our womenfolk,” said Mobi Sam, the caretaker headmaster of Morehead High School. I am very happy with the current developments. Many teachers do not want to come to Morehead due to the lack of government services,” he said.
“One of the first things a teacher asks for is, what health services are provided in Morehead?” When the answer is unfavorable, the teachers don’t come.”
Mr Sam added that with the developments by SDP, he was expecting teachers and other government officers to want to go and work in Morehead.
Other community members have also supported this project.

Dr Sylvester Huafolo and team in the newly refurbished birthing house.

Mary Dawi is a community health worker. This year marks her 29 years of employment in the community health space.
She said: “I have been working with the Morehead Health Centre and have faced many challenges in providing adequate and safe health services to the people. My work requires me to deliver babies out in the bush or in small huts built for pregnant women.”
Just last year, Dawi had to deliver a first-time mother (primip) with a breech presentation where the baby died. With that experience in her memory, she is very happy with the refurbished birthing house.
“The birthing house will now provide a space for mothers to have safe deliveries,” she said.
With the birthing house now complete and in operation, this closes out Phase 1, Stage 1 of the health centre project, bringing it one step closer to being a full Level 3 facility.
Phase 1, Stage 2, to start this month, will cover the refurbishment of one of the two existing buildings at the health centre, and the renovation of a two-bedroom duplex and three studio room apartments.
Phase 2 will start in the third quarter of this year with the refurbishment of the second existing building, the construction of one new building to add to the existing two, nine new staff houses, and all service utilities (sewer, water and power).
Siwai Nema, a senior citizen from Morehead welcomes this project. He said they have not seen development taking place in quite a long while so this was wonderful news to him, adding: “the community is very happy. We will embrace and support this project.”
The Morehead Health Centre project will also extend to include the construction of classrooms and staff houses for SDP’s Flexible Open and Distance Education (Fode) centre.

  • Story and pictures by PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd.

Refuge along Bulolo highway

Gabansis guest house owner, Chris Donald on the balcony of his guest house. Business is growing and he plans to expand soon. – Pictures by PISAI GUMAR

THE unforeseen risks along the busy Bulolo highway travelers from Anga region face each night and day is a cause for concern for a news hound to invest in a refuge.
Bulolo highway is one of Morobe’s busiest economic corridors that generates substantial income for the province and nation each week, besides the Wampar, Markham, Erap-Boana, Labuta, Heldsbach-Pindiu and Kabwum-Wasu roads.
Its busy traffic also means it is full of ponds along the road surface posing risks in safety hazards, frequent armed hold-ups and mechanical problems. The worst existing threat is the raging Kumalu river that could cause havoc any hour of the day holding commuters at ransom either end of the road.
Frequent road users are mostly PMV operators, truckies, coffee and food producers, alluvial miners, government and church workers from far-flung Wau-Waria, Menyamya-Aseki, Upper and Middle Watut, Mumeng and Buang, besides Urban Wau and Bulolo town residents.
Notable major tax payers using the highway include Zenag Chicken, PNG Forest Products, Pine Lodge, Valley View Guest House, Hidden Valley mining and various wholesalers, retailers and distributers.
The reporter, Chris Donald’s own tribesmen from Kapin village sandwiched amid the rugged gorges of Middle Watut are also frequent users of the road, going to and from Lae.
“At least, providing a shelter for travelers along this highway to stop-over and dine before continuing to conduct their businesses is a moral thing,” says Donald.
“I really feel for families traveling at nights.”
Donald, better known as CD by his Lae media colleagues is a no-nonsense fella with humorous ability that use his communication for development skills to do anything from scraps.
He’s a gritty person that ensures he achieves what his mind decides.
As such, with the little in in his pocket, CD went to contest for the Mumeng LLG council presidency in 2017.
However, when polling was winding down CD, who had waited patiently all day, walked idly to the booth only to find out that his name wasn’t in the common roll registry.
On his return trip to Lae, CD dropped-off at Gabansis in Wampar, Huon Gulf and secured a piece of land costing K15,000 at Bompok.
As a newshound, CD actually understands the odds of traveling long distances into remote districts and one essential need for reporters is refuge.
Once the reporters are offered shelter for a night or two in a village, it’s a blessing that brings relief to aching legs, instills inner peace and courage to walk extra miles.
CD, Mackhenly Kaiok and I started as stringers with Post Courier under then Bureau Chief Abby Yadi in 2007.
Young, energetic and keen were we, Chief Yadi, rather Father AY nurtured and encouraged us to get out of the news room, use our noses to sniff like hounds in the jungles, comb the far-flung forests, swamps and coastline of 33 Morobe LLGs.
Our duty was to fill the Lae Daily and Mamose pages news basket every day with various stories. Our colleague sister, Nancy Kalimda did the page layout while our two senior colleagues, Franco Nebas and lat Roselyne Albaniel covered sports, business, politics and the rest, before Chief AY’s final perusal and submission for tomorrow’s paper.
Later, Kevin Teme and Poreni Umau joined us in 2008. As stringers, none of us had homes of our own. We would use Nebas’ living room, contributing for food using whatever lineage claims received after each month.
But the news we gathered would pierce the hearts and minds of Morobe Tutumang members, former Governor Luther Wenge and former administrator, the late Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc at the time.
Soon, Wenge would summon reporters for press conferences.
After that short stint with Post Courier, CD joined Triple Plate Junction, an exploration company drilling Sapanda range in Upper Watut. He then left to join the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC-PNG) headquarters before joining PC Woo Ltd, as marketing coordinator.
CD’s vast traveling experiences enabled him to understand the plight of travelers on cold nights out at Mare market awaiting dawn before continuing their journey to Lae.
And on the return trip, they continue to ride until sunup elsewhere before arriving at their respective destinations.
CD took the challenge without delay to mobilise the gravel from Wara Bung near Apele market and Mare market. Timber was sourced from PNG Forest Products in Bulolo. Using those locally avaiable materials, CD built six-comfortable six-room shelter for the weary traveler in mind.
It took CD two years to complete the lodge before opening it in 2019.
The modern accommodation is fitted with double beds, television sets , freezers, book shelves, ceiling fans , land line telephone to the reception, coffee tables, and shower and toilets in each room.
Local paintings aptly laminated and framed decorate the walls. At the entry gates’ right is all-brick reception office and a canteen stocked with snacks and necessary consumables at affordable prices.
The bricks were locally produced using CD’s self-designed manual brick molding machine. Thus, the lodge perimeter is protected with a stonewall fence and 24-hour security.
It costs K150 per room a night and the guests are well-served by local catering and hospitality services which include free breakfast as a token of appreciation.
Dinner costs K25 for a plate of roasted chicken with vegetables and K50 for a creamed fish in a local recipe.
A small hauswin provides a perfect setting for relaxing with buai and cigarettes or a bottle of stubby to unwind the pain from bumpy the ride.
An animal lover himself, CD also looks after a tree kangaroo and two crocodiles in his mini zoo to enable his visitors to spare few minutes watching the animals.
Since the day he opened the guest house, business is growing with frequent stopovers by highway travelers CD aspires to build additional rooms, this time with the inclusion of a duplex to meet current demand.
His regular clients are Digicel PNG employees that stay there for about two to three wees weeks in a month, besides local PMV operators.
Interestingly, CD is also fortunate to receive faraway visitors from Madang, although his is a novice learning the ropes in the travel and hospitality industry.
As a no-nonsense person, CD courageously ventured into owning and leasing three properties in Lae city. Then he ventured into taxi services, owning two cabs, making it possible for clients to move around in Lae city or travel to and from the Gabansis lodge.
“At least we are providing an affordable place for people to dine before going out to do their business and return home safely. It is our worthy service to humanity,” says CD.
The Gabansis Guest House is a stone throw away from Jiwaka fuel service station before reaching Gabansis village when driving up from Markham Bridge.
If you’re tired after a long ride on the Bulolo road or planning a weekend out to enjoy the serenity of Bompok to unwind, call 7903 0301 for early bookings.