By JAMES APA GUMUNO
AN Interplast team from Australia carried out two plastic surgeries in Mt Hagen General Hospital, Western Highlands province, yesterday.
The team comprised two surgeons, two nurses, an anaesthetist and a local trainee plastic surgeon, Dr Morath Maire.
Dr Maire, who is based in Manus, accompanied the team from Alotau after spending a week in Alotau General Hospital performing the same task.
Surgeon and team leader, Dr Simon Donahue, said yesterday patients with cleft lips and palates, scarring from burns, hand injuries and tumors would receive life-changing surgery.
Dr Donahue said they would give first priority to children, especially those in desperate need of surgery to restore their body parts which were deformed during birth, injuries or scars from burns.
“After being in the province for a short time, I saw many patients who needed to undergo surgery. But we are very sorry we will be in the province for a week and will be returning to Australia on Saturday,” he said.
Dr Donahue said the volunteer work was established in 1983 as a joint project of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeon and Australian Rotary Clubs.
“Interplast Australia and New Zealand is a non-profit organisation which sends voluntary medical teams to undertake surgical and allied health treatment and training programmes in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The team has conducted 66 programmes in PNG since 1985 and as a result 3,663 patients have had consultations and 1,915 received surgery,” he said.
He said the programme was funded by AusAID and provided a range of clinical services to PNG through the deployment of specialist medical teams which are responsible for transferring clinical skills to local counterparts as well as the provision of specific training sessions and workshops.
Dr Maire said: “I am happy to accompany the team for the very first time and I have learnt much from Alotau. It’s a three year practical work experience before I become a plastic surgeon.”
He said it was a good opportunity for him to learn from the experts.
The team is expected to operate on 38 patients but this would depend on the time and the nature of operations that would be carried out on the patients.