Townsville’s YWAM Medical Ship returned to Port Moresby on Saturday, 7 July, after completing three voyages of community development services in PNG’s Gulf Province.
This is the third year the vessel has ventured to the Gulf region, and the team reported that they are beginning to see the results of a long term, sustainable health strategy.
Medical Coordinator Hannah Peart reported that when the ship arrived to some of the villages they had visited the past two years, most of the dental work required was cleanings and restorations, rather than the emergency oral work, which marked previous years.
“It was really rewarding to see that. The toothbrush and toothpaste distribution, and oral care and hygiene education we did is really starting to pay off,” Peart said.
Peart expressed gratitude to the Townsville community, commenting that most of the oral care supplies came from the support from Daryl Holmes and 1300 SMILES and the toothbrush collections received from Townsville schools and at events such as the Cowboys games and Stable on the Strand. Peart noted gratitude to InterOil, who supplied the fuel for this year’s outreaches.
The team also helped up-skill 68 rural health workers in dentistry, midwifery, ophthalmology, and primary health care. Some of the health workers reported they had not had training in 30 years, and were grateful to be equipped to better assist their people.
The vessel ventured into new territory thanks to the supply of new navigational equipment, which helped chart the rural and remote rivers that cross the region. Anna Scott, the Director’s Office Representative onboard said that the further that the vessel went, the worse some of the health conditions got.
“Many of the children were sick with worms and diarrhoea,” Scott recounted. “Many of them had not had health assistance in a very, very long time. It was a real privilege to head that way and help them.”
In all the team delivered 19,831 training and health services and conducted valuable research to assist key stakeholders at the grassroots, provincial and national levels to improve the health and community standards in this region of the country.
Plans are already underway to return to the Gulf Province in 2013, but first the YWAM Medical Ship will conduct a week-long outreach in Port Moresby, in partnership with key stakeholders from across Townsville including the Chamber of Commerce, and 1300 SMILES, before assisting the Western Province from August-September.
For interviews please contact Kara Medlock 0407204994