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Missionary Diary: Healthcare in Remote PNG

by ervte

Jeroen and Diana Zwijnenburg of MAF Australia have served in Papua New Guinea since August 2021. Jeroen is MAF’s Projects & Finance Manager. At the same time, Diana is seconded from MAF to work as a physician at Kompiam Hospital in the remote northern province of Enga, an area listed as one of the most disadvantaged in PNG.

Word was circulated that the clinic team would return to Yambaitok. Many people walked for hours to be seen by the team at Kompiam’s clinic.

From February 2-4, 2022, I was part of a team that flew with MAF from Kompiam District Hospital, Enga Baptist Health Service, to the Highland village of Yambaitok for a health patrol. Yambaitok is very remote and difficult to reach without a plane. It had been three months since this outstation was last visited.Missionary Diary: Healthcare in Remote PNG

Community Health Worker (CHW) Patrick is stationed here. The aid station is very busy and currently covers a much larger area than just Yambaitok, as there is some unrest around the nearest community and aid station in Yakima.

The health patrol team consisted of dentist Dr. Camy Thomas, Dental Assistant/CHW Rebecca Saka, CHW Jacky Lawa, and I (Diana), a doctor. We brought several supplies, including test kits and treatments for malaria, various childhood vaccines, family planning items, pain relief, and much more.

On arrival in Yambaitok, we were welcomed, and announcements were made about the expected work. Many patients walked for hours to get to Yambaitok to be seen.

With only half a day left, vaccinations, malaria testing, maternity care, and family planning were prioritized. All other cases will be seen hereafter.

Dr. Camy and Rebecca established a makeshift dental clinic and taught everyone about good oral health, healthy food choices, and general dental checkups. Then they started doing fillings and tooth extractions.

A father had carried his four-year-old son from Yenkisa to be seen. This is about a day’s walk. His son suffered from malaria, which we treated. We also gave treatment for worms and anemia, which would aid in his recovery. His vaccinations were updated, and the two were given mosquito nets to prevent them from being bitten again.

An older man with chronic abdominal pain was diagnosed with end-stage liver cancer. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do much, but we explained the problem and were able to treat his pain. We also prayed with him and hoped that our testimony would help him get to know Jesus so that although he would die of this disease, his soul would live with Jesus forever.

We all worked until it was too dark to see and continued to see patients the next morning. It remained busy until mid-afternoon when it seemed as though everyone had been seen. This was excellent timing as it started to rain heavily. The active market and other people were all gone quickly.

Overall, we were fortunate to treat most patients who presented and not have to take anyone to Kompiam Hospital for further care or surgery.

During our stay, we managed to do the following:

75 vaccinations for children

30 general/food vouchers for children

Vitamin A was given to four children

six malaria patients diagnosed and treated

14 prenatal visits, many of which were well into their pregnancy and just now having their first visit

five family planning implants were removed and replaced

· saw another 58 patients with various diseases.

The next day the MAF plane came early to pick us up again and fly back to Kompiam.

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