Remote Barai facing health issues

Papua

remote Barai in Northern is facing serious healthcare challenges that include the death of mothers during childbirth, says a health worker.
Itokama Health Centre officer in-charge Lester Dona, a community health worker, said the poor health service was a big challenge in this remote part of the Northern province.
“Immunisation is also a challenge as the vaccine fridge at Itokama is no longer working,” Dona said.
“I refer mothers to Afore but it’s up to them to take their babies there,” he said, adding that it took two days for patients to reach Afore.
A mother had recently died after giving birth to her second child at Umbuwara village in Barai.
Dona said medical supplies oftened arrived three months late because of poor road access and the medicine was usually expired by the time it arrived.
“The main communicable diseases around these parts are flu, cough, and secondary infections such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, asthma and skin disease,” Dona said.
“TB (tuberculosis) has also started to increase in our society and I have had to refer patients to Afore and from there they have to go to Popondetta because I do not have capacity to treat them here.
“I advocate that they have to take ownership of their own health because access to basic services is very hard for us.
“Prevention is better than cure.”
Another challenge Dona mentioned was the shortage of manpower.
“I am only a community health worker and the only one working here for the last eight years,” he said.
“I do not have any other health workers here to assist me.”
Barai is a geographically remote area which shares the mountain ranges bordering Central where road access is often non-existent.
The Barai Plateau covers 10 council wards, 35 villages and has a population of about 8555 people.
There is only one government health centre – Itokama Health Centre – serving more than 8000 people in 10 wards with little or no supplies of medicine.
The facilities are deteriorating.
The general ward and maternal ward cannot be used because they are rundown and need maintenance.

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