THERE are 32 hospitals in the country which include both private and public, according to World Health Organisation in 2014.
There are seven regional hospitals, 19 provincial hospitals, 89 district hospitals, 677 health centres and 2,600 health posts.
According to the 2011 census Gulf Province had a total population of 158,197. The population in Kikori District alone was reported in 2011 at 50,966.
The main hospitals in Gulf are Kerema, Kikori and Kapuna.
After nine years, the population is expected to have doubled in just under a decade, meaning the demand for health care in the Kikori District also increased.
And for many years, non-governmental organisations, especially churches have contributed to the health care system and also education in Papua New Guinea.
Many rural areas received missionaries who have travelled to the rural parts of the country with their families, worked for many years and have returned.
Kapuna Hospital in Kikori is also part of such a legacy, where churches have contributed and continue to do so in helping improve the health care system in the country. The hospital itself is managed by Gulf Christian Services, a faith-based ministry and also a member of PNG Society for Rural and Remote Health, a non-governmental organisation striving to support rural doctors in PNG.
The hospital serves 30,000 people living in the district whilst managing its outreach programmes such as community health worker training, leadership, community development, workshop, a primary school and builders training school for over many years.
Over many years Kapuna Hospital has nearly operated on its own due to the remoteness of its location, 75 km from Kerema town and 350 km from Port Moresby.
Running a hospital in such a remote area is not easy. The maintenance and the logistics are two main issues. To address those challenges, Kapuna is supported by several partners.
Australia’s Incentive Fund provided a K10 million grant including extensive advice and other support. Former Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis who was present with Governor Chris Haiveta, at the official launch of the construction phase in Kapuna reinforced Australia and Papua New Guinea’s shared commitment to strengthening health in remote and rural areas of Papua New Guinea.
“Papua New Guinea and Australia have a long-lasting friendship and we are equally committed to strengthening health capacity, infrastructure and service delivery in this great country. This support is especially needed in the farthest and more remote regions of Papua New Guinea, such as along the Purari Delta in Gulf,” he said.
Higher quality healthcare
The project will enable the hospital to provide higher-quality healthcare and social services for people in the Purari Delta region, ultimately being more sustainable and meeting the National Health Service standards for a Level 4 hospital.
The hospital upgrade will be of particular benefit to women and girls, with approximately 60 per cent of the current hospital services supporting women’s health. This will increase with upgrades and refurbishments to critical women’s health services, and the implementation of new social services and community initiatives.
Other major partners that have come on board to assist in the upgrade of the hospital with the refurbishment of the jetty including a floating pontoon at a significantly discounted cost.
Total E&P PNG Ltd also recently renewed its partnership with the hospital which is the main health center within the upstream Papua LNG Project area of influence. Once more Total continues to be a catalyst for change.
Taking advantage of its logistical means, Total assists the hospital with the transportation of building equipment, materials and medicine supplies. Total also supports the running of medical patrols along the Purari River and the deployment of Kapuna TB volunteer programme.
Kapuna Hospital is undergoing a major refurbishment from its original four-ward hospital with 100 beds for patients and 200 babies delivered every year, to a modern hospital facility thanks to the Australian Government and to the action of Total, who served as a catalyst in this partnership.
Curtain Brothers built the new jetty and also the floating pontoon that can see shipment and delivery of materials and cargo at the door step of Kapuna Hospital. It also donated large volumes of rock, drilling casing and other construction materials.
The Summer Institute of Linguists (SIL) is contracted to build a 130KW solar power plant and another 616kWh solar battery plant.
Hospital matron Adam Jarus thanked Total for its contribution to Kapuna and its refurbishment and also, ongoing community outreach assistance in health.
“I’ve been working with Gulf Christian Service for nine years. My stay at Kapuna has been very pleasant after witnessing a lot of changes to the hospital and its upgrade,” he said.
“Total has helped us a lot with free transport on a barge in transporting our cargoes, materials and equipment to build our hospital. Total also helped in providing transport and logistics for immunisation and health patrols all the way up to Wabo and other villages. I would like to thank the Incentive Fund, Total and all the other partners who have contributed in the refurbishment of Kapuna Hospital.”
Ward councillor for Kapuna Akia Radley Ivuka said Kapuna got its support from various partners including Total who in particular has helped the community in logistics and transport. He also thanked the Incentive Fund for its contribution in helping fund Kapuna to where it is today.
“Total helps us with our supplies that come in at the end of every two months at its own cost. We are more than blessed to see the good work of our company in upper Purai – Total who has been helping us with some of the medical supplies, even the beddings and all the instruments needed in the daily operation of the hospital. We are so blessed with their contribution to Kapuna.”
Dr Valerie Calvert of Kapuna Hospital also acknowledged Total and other partners and their contribution for the support in the upgrade of the hospital.
“You’ve helped us in a big way with logistics and construction materials and expertise. But you have also helped us in little things that you may not think as big but they are big to people like myself. One of them is the supply of baby clinic books. You have also supported TB volunteer programmes and many other things that have helped us in running our everyday programmes.”
Jean-Marc Noiray, the managing director of Total, acknowledged the Calvert family’s years of service to Kapuna and to Gulf and said one of the things Total always tried was to maximise the benefits of its presence, whether by taking advantage of its existing logistics or to help local organisations like Kapuna Hospital to find partners to develop their activities.
“I’m very glad to be here today to sign a renewed memorandum of understanding to continue our work with Kapuna. We will try to see where we can try to help. Health is one of the values we promote amongst our staff and also neighboring communities. As a company we remain committed to the project and the country. We are committed to being good neighbours and will still contribute to the good work you are doing in Kapuna.”
Where is Kapuna?
Kapuna Hospital is located along the Wame River, in one of the remotest areas in Gulf. The hospital is a member of PNG Society for Rural and Remote Health, an NGO striving to support rural doctors in PNG.
Kapuna Hospital serves over 30,000 people and has been in operation since 1949. It is managed by Gulf Christian Services, a faith-based ministry also located in Kikori, that provides medical care, CHW training, leadership, community development, a workshop, a primary school and builders’ training school.
The hospital is very much the work of the Calvert family since 1954 when Drs Peter and Lin Calvert arrived and have devoted their lives to the people of Gulf. Today, Dr Lin Calvert still resides in Kapuna and her grandchildren continue to support the people of Gulf. Dr Valerie, the daughter of the Calverts has been the primary resident doctor since 2007.
Many volunteers from all over the world are working in the hospital and devote a period of their lives to support the people of the Gulf.
Running a hospital in such a remote area is not easy. The support of development partners through direct funding, logistics and advice has been a real boost to the Kapuna Hospital which has served this remote Gulf community for years.
- Story and pictures supplied.