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Papua New Guinea

Articles by Papua New Guinea

SPRINT
26 April 2022

SPRINT: Sexual and reproductive health in crisis and post-crisis situations

  The SPRINT Initiative provides one of the most important aspects of humanitarian assistance that is often forgotten when disaster and conflicts strike: access to essential life-saving sexual and reproductive health services. We build capacity of humanitarian workers to deliver essential life-saving sexual and reproductive health services in crisis and post-crisis situations through the delivery of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health in emergencies.   Through funding from the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our SPRINT Initiative has brought sexual and reproductive health to the humanitarian agenda, increased capacity and responded to a number of humanitarian emergencies. Australia has funded the SPRINT initiative since 2007. Since then, the SPRINT initiative has responded to 105 humanitarian crises and worked with partners in 99 countries. SPRINT has reached over 1,138,175 people, delivering 2,133,141 crucial SRH services, and continues to respond to ongoing emergencies. In each priority country, we work with an IPPF Member Association to coordinate and implement life-saving sexual and reproductive activities. Through these partnerships, SPRINT helps strengthen the enabling environment, improve national capacity and provide lifesaving services during times of crisis. You can read more about IPPF Humanitarian’s Programme here. Australia's location in the Indo-Pacific provides DFAT with a unique perspective on humanitarian action. Australia is committed to helping partner governments manage crisis response themselves. This is done through building the capacity of the national government and civil society to be able to respond to disaster. DFAT also works with experienced international partners to prepare for and respond to disasters, including other donors, United Nations agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and non-government organisations.          

A woman receives healthcare
03 February 2022

Alternative approaches to providing healthcare to women and girls in Papua New Guinea during COVID-19

Papua New Guinea (PNG), one of the most populated countries in the Pacific, also has one of the highest maternal death rates in the Asia and Pacific regions. The current downward trend of women accessing health facilities or having a skilled birth attendant present during childbirth is alarming. An estimation from 2018 showed that two out of three women in PNG had no access to contraceptives due to geographic, cultural, and economic barriers. These concerning estimates are expected to be further derailed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic brought a direct life-threatening impact to PNG’s unprepared health care systems. Many people live with pre-existing vulnerabilities such as lack of access to basic services and healthcare facilities, or who live in natural disaster-prone areas. At the centre of this situation are vulnerable women and girls, especially those with little or no access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services, including contraception - a vital health component that is often deprioritised in crisis settings. Against this backdrop, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is currently supporting the Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) to extend essential SRH services from its eight static clinics in hard-to-reach communities via the mobile clinics outreach program. The main objective of this response is to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on mortality and morbidity due to adverse SRH conditions. This will include the delivery of crucial Minimal Initial Service Package (MISP) services; the continuation of comprehensive SRH services; the provision of public health information to communities; and COVID-19 infection prevention and control education. Funded by the Australian government through the SPRINT program, the community outreach mobile clinics are working in 12 districts across four provinces including East New Britain, Eastern Highlands, Morobe, and National Capital District. The National Department of Health is the main coordinator, alongside provincial health authorities, UNFPA, health protection clusters and IPPF Humanitarian for PNGFHA.  Throughout the pandemic, PNGFHA has continued operating its eight static clinics and it has set up an additional 12 mobile clinics since July 2020 with a total of 26 clinical and non-clinical staff.  Access to sexual and reproductive health Accessibility is the key factor behind this initiative. 85% of the population is estimated to live in rural areas in PNG and have no or minimal form of public transportation to get to public health facilities. With government-imposed stay at home orders, many people are unable or reluctant to travel amid fears of becoming infected at the health facilities. Women at the Tuna Bay settlement outside of the capital, Port Moresby, have little access to health facilities within their local area. Many women like Vavine Kila fear for their own and their children’s health and wellbeing but are unable to access the healthcare they need due to the high cost of transportation.  “We don’t normally get access to these services in our community,” said Vavine. “When we go out to other locations, sometimes we wait until late, and also it is expensive to travel up and down. It is very vital to bring the services into the community so our people can benefit from it, for the betterment of our children.”  The PNGFHA’s eight mobile clinics across PNG cut down locals’ travelling and healthcare costs. These clinics also extend underserved communities’ access to SRH services including family planning services, contraception, immunisation, and other health treatments. Local and safe spaces Local, and primarily female, aid workers are at the core of this response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Christine Atu is one of the aid workers that joined PNGFHA from the PNG public healthcare system. She is working alongside youth apprentices like midwife Dalyn Maira at the mobile clinics. Their exchange of experience, expertise and insights into the local culture and context ensure the smooth delivery of essential service to the local communities. 

papua new guinea
24 August 2021

Papua New Guinea: serving essential healthcare during COVID-19

Ravat Village in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, is located south of the province’s capital Kokopo. Despite being located approximately 30 minutes' drive from the capital, lack of access to transportation and subsequent stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic have left many communities further isolated.  The Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) was quick to respond to ensure life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) continues during the pandemic, by setting up mobile clinics in the most remote villages. PNGFHA mobile clinics are supported by the Australian Government under the IPPF’S SPRINT initiative.  "I knew I would come here" Diane Benson, a young mother of three, is one of the first to arrive at the Ravat Village mobile clinic. She has been wanting to get reliable information on contraceptive options. “I haven’t been able to travel out to town to get the information or services [on SRH]. So as soon as I knew PNGFHA were coming to the village, I knew I would come here for advice on family planning.”  Many women like Diane face the same challenges of transportation and finances to access SRH services in other clinics. The fear of being infected with COVID-19 at health facilities also had deterred many from seeking SRH services.  Diane returned home with a contraceptive implant fitted in her arm after consultation at the PNGFHA mobile clinic. Before she leaves, she shared her dream to finish her education that was halted with her pregnancies and raising her children.  “I would like to go back to school...then I would also like to go to university. I would like to become a teacher, so I can help other students and young mothers like me who would like to go back and finish their education.”  Continuous access to essential SRH services Pre- COVID-19, it is estimated that 214 million women and girls globally are not using modern contraception, despite wanting to avoid pregnancies. On top of that, the WHO identified PNG as one of the highest countries with maternal and newborn mortality rates in WHO’s Western Pacific Region. The pandemic has further hampered this dire situation. The Executive Director of PNGFHA, Michael Salini, said: “PNGFHA mobile clinics serve some of the most vulnerable women and girls in the community. With this support, we are able to provide essential SRH services. While the public clinics are focusing their efforts on managing COVID-19, PNGFHA mobile clinics are deployed and reaching out to communities to ensure SRH access are available and not deprioritized in a crisis setting.” PNGFHA mobile clinics have visited communities in especially in remote areas and smaller towns across Papua New Guinea since March 2020. The mobile clinics provide a wide range of SRH services and consultations on family planning, antenatal and postnatal care, immunizations and smear tests/pap smears, and other aspects of women’s health and wellbeing.  A localized approach Christine Atu is a local aid worker that coordinates the mobile clinics in East New Britain. She is a firm believer that proper consultation of any SRH services is vital to assisting patients in making an informed decision. Christine sees the mobile clinic as a crucial educational hub for women to understand their sexual and reproductive health rights besides administering treatments.  While women and girls often visit the mobile clinics, Christine’s local understanding of social norms has helped her develop a method to include men in her consultation, especially for couples. “I find it works if I write a note to the husband to come back to the clinic with their wife because the little note is like an invitation...When I write a note, they feel like they are invited, and they will show up. When that happens, I am very happy, and I dedicate one day every week in the clinic to just sit with people and do counselling.” Christine hopes that the work and effort she put into are breaking the cultural taboo surrounding sexual and reproductive health in the area. She also has seen more men coming with their wives to the clinic, which is a positive shift in the local community, especially in ensuring successful family planning.   

SPRINT
26 April 2022

SPRINT: Sexual and reproductive health in crisis and post-crisis situations

  The SPRINT Initiative provides one of the most important aspects of humanitarian assistance that is often forgotten when disaster and conflicts strike: access to essential life-saving sexual and reproductive health services. We build capacity of humanitarian workers to deliver essential life-saving sexual and reproductive health services in crisis and post-crisis situations through the delivery of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health in emergencies.   Through funding from the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our SPRINT Initiative has brought sexual and reproductive health to the humanitarian agenda, increased capacity and responded to a number of humanitarian emergencies. Australia has funded the SPRINT initiative since 2007. Since then, the SPRINT initiative has responded to 105 humanitarian crises and worked with partners in 99 countries. SPRINT has reached over 1,138,175 people, delivering 2,133,141 crucial SRH services, and continues to respond to ongoing emergencies. In each priority country, we work with an IPPF Member Association to coordinate and implement life-saving sexual and reproductive activities. Through these partnerships, SPRINT helps strengthen the enabling environment, improve national capacity and provide lifesaving services during times of crisis. You can read more about IPPF Humanitarian’s Programme here. Australia's location in the Indo-Pacific provides DFAT with a unique perspective on humanitarian action. Australia is committed to helping partner governments manage crisis response themselves. This is done through building the capacity of the national government and civil society to be able to respond to disaster. DFAT also works with experienced international partners to prepare for and respond to disasters, including other donors, United Nations agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and non-government organisations.          

A woman receives healthcare
03 February 2022

Alternative approaches to providing healthcare to women and girls in Papua New Guinea during COVID-19

Papua New Guinea (PNG), one of the most populated countries in the Pacific, also has one of the highest maternal death rates in the Asia and Pacific regions. The current downward trend of women accessing health facilities or having a skilled birth attendant present during childbirth is alarming. An estimation from 2018 showed that two out of three women in PNG had no access to contraceptives due to geographic, cultural, and economic barriers. These concerning estimates are expected to be further derailed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic brought a direct life-threatening impact to PNG’s unprepared health care systems. Many people live with pre-existing vulnerabilities such as lack of access to basic services and healthcare facilities, or who live in natural disaster-prone areas. At the centre of this situation are vulnerable women and girls, especially those with little or no access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services, including contraception - a vital health component that is often deprioritised in crisis settings. Against this backdrop, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is currently supporting the Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) to extend essential SRH services from its eight static clinics in hard-to-reach communities via the mobile clinics outreach program. The main objective of this response is to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on mortality and morbidity due to adverse SRH conditions. This will include the delivery of crucial Minimal Initial Service Package (MISP) services; the continuation of comprehensive SRH services; the provision of public health information to communities; and COVID-19 infection prevention and control education. Funded by the Australian government through the SPRINT program, the community outreach mobile clinics are working in 12 districts across four provinces including East New Britain, Eastern Highlands, Morobe, and National Capital District. The National Department of Health is the main coordinator, alongside provincial health authorities, UNFPA, health protection clusters and IPPF Humanitarian for PNGFHA.  Throughout the pandemic, PNGFHA has continued operating its eight static clinics and it has set up an additional 12 mobile clinics since July 2020 with a total of 26 clinical and non-clinical staff.  Access to sexual and reproductive health Accessibility is the key factor behind this initiative. 85% of the population is estimated to live in rural areas in PNG and have no or minimal form of public transportation to get to public health facilities. With government-imposed stay at home orders, many people are unable or reluctant to travel amid fears of becoming infected at the health facilities. Women at the Tuna Bay settlement outside of the capital, Port Moresby, have little access to health facilities within their local area. Many women like Vavine Kila fear for their own and their children’s health and wellbeing but are unable to access the healthcare they need due to the high cost of transportation.  “We don’t normally get access to these services in our community,” said Vavine. “When we go out to other locations, sometimes we wait until late, and also it is expensive to travel up and down. It is very vital to bring the services into the community so our people can benefit from it, for the betterment of our children.”  The PNGFHA’s eight mobile clinics across PNG cut down locals’ travelling and healthcare costs. These clinics also extend underserved communities’ access to SRH services including family planning services, contraception, immunisation, and other health treatments. Local and safe spaces Local, and primarily female, aid workers are at the core of this response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Christine Atu is one of the aid workers that joined PNGFHA from the PNG public healthcare system. She is working alongside youth apprentices like midwife Dalyn Maira at the mobile clinics. Their exchange of experience, expertise and insights into the local culture and context ensure the smooth delivery of essential service to the local communities. 

papua new guinea
24 August 2021

Papua New Guinea: serving essential healthcare during COVID-19

Ravat Village in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, is located south of the province’s capital Kokopo. Despite being located approximately 30 minutes' drive from the capital, lack of access to transportation and subsequent stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic have left many communities further isolated.  The Papua New Guinea Family Health Association (PNGFHA) was quick to respond to ensure life-saving sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) continues during the pandemic, by setting up mobile clinics in the most remote villages. PNGFHA mobile clinics are supported by the Australian Government under the IPPF’S SPRINT initiative.  "I knew I would come here" Diane Benson, a young mother of three, is one of the first to arrive at the Ravat Village mobile clinic. She has been wanting to get reliable information on contraceptive options. “I haven’t been able to travel out to town to get the information or services [on SRH]. So as soon as I knew PNGFHA were coming to the village, I knew I would come here for advice on family planning.”  Many women like Diane face the same challenges of transportation and finances to access SRH services in other clinics. The fear of being infected with COVID-19 at health facilities also had deterred many from seeking SRH services.  Diane returned home with a contraceptive implant fitted in her arm after consultation at the PNGFHA mobile clinic. Before she leaves, she shared her dream to finish her education that was halted with her pregnancies and raising her children.  “I would like to go back to school...then I would also like to go to university. I would like to become a teacher, so I can help other students and young mothers like me who would like to go back and finish their education.”  Continuous access to essential SRH services Pre- COVID-19, it is estimated that 214 million women and girls globally are not using modern contraception, despite wanting to avoid pregnancies. On top of that, the WHO identified PNG as one of the highest countries with maternal and newborn mortality rates in WHO’s Western Pacific Region. The pandemic has further hampered this dire situation. The Executive Director of PNGFHA, Michael Salini, said: “PNGFHA mobile clinics serve some of the most vulnerable women and girls in the community. With this support, we are able to provide essential SRH services. While the public clinics are focusing their efforts on managing COVID-19, PNGFHA mobile clinics are deployed and reaching out to communities to ensure SRH access are available and not deprioritized in a crisis setting.” PNGFHA mobile clinics have visited communities in especially in remote areas and smaller towns across Papua New Guinea since March 2020. The mobile clinics provide a wide range of SRH services and consultations on family planning, antenatal and postnatal care, immunizations and smear tests/pap smears, and other aspects of women’s health and wellbeing.  A localized approach Christine Atu is a local aid worker that coordinates the mobile clinics in East New Britain. She is a firm believer that proper consultation of any SRH services is vital to assisting patients in making an informed decision. Christine sees the mobile clinic as a crucial educational hub for women to understand their sexual and reproductive health rights besides administering treatments.  While women and girls often visit the mobile clinics, Christine’s local understanding of social norms has helped her develop a method to include men in her consultation, especially for couples. “I find it works if I write a note to the husband to come back to the clinic with their wife because the little note is like an invitation...When I write a note, they feel like they are invited, and they will show up. When that happens, I am very happy, and I dedicate one day every week in the clinic to just sit with people and do counselling.” Christine hopes that the work and effort she put into are breaking the cultural taboo surrounding sexual and reproductive health in the area. She also has seen more men coming with their wives to the clinic, which is a positive shift in the local community, especially in ensuring successful family planning.