Story by Hannah Gardener. Photos by SDP's Aerial Health Patrol.
Morehead, a district centre situated in the lowlands of Papua New Guinea’s Western Province, is home to a healthcare centre suffering from prolonged depletion of supplies and morale. Twenty years without desperately needed anti-venom is just one supply shortage these healthcare workers face. As if this weren’t enough, they now face the challenge of providing health care in a pandemic without proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). One nurse summed up the staff’s sorrow over their inability to give personal, hands-on treatment during the pandemic: “within this period of time we are not friends with our patients because we are fearing to treat patients without PPE.”
That is, until now...
In the midst of this challenging time, MAF has recommenced facilitating the SDP’s Aerial Health Patrols (AHP) team members to deliver weekly health services and urgently required medical supplies (including PPE and anti-venom), to remote airstrip communities across Western Province.
On May 10th, a MAF plane carrying the seven member patrol team landed in Morehead, a remote station serving many people across the South Fly plains. AHP’s customary introductory meeting was followed by Covid-19 awareness activities, outpatient clinics, immunisations, and training for health workers on Covid-19, snake bites, infection control, and family planning. Morehead health workers were so grateful for the Covid-19 awareness and PPE supplies such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitiser. One nurse shared, “When you came today with masks, you allowed us to work with our patients...when you did the Covid-19 awareness, it cleared up the confusion.” The end of the day found Morehead health workers anticipating the next day’s return to the health centre, armed with proper PPE. So, on May 11th, the healthcare staff happily donned their masks and gloves and returned to the health centre to give the hands-on patient care they value so much. These heartfelt words from a Morehead health centre staff say it all: “You relieved our fears...and enlightened our spirit...we don’t know what to say but only to thank you all.”