Better Health Outcomes for Our PNG Neighbours

Port Local Wendy Stein in Papua New Guinea Native Dress while advocating for better health outcomes for women in Papua New Guinea. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

PAPUA New Guinea are our nearest geographical neighbours, yet some of those residing in the southwestern Pacific country, experience very different living conditions to those which we enjoy.

Women can give birth on dirt floored huts in remote villages and COVID-19 is ravaging the nation.

Port Stephens residents are no strangers to these stories as local Wendy Stein (OAM) has been advocating for our community to support the struggling nation with health initiatives for many years.

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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) have delivered two ambulances to Port Moresby today as part of our ongoing support to help bolster Papua New Guinea (PNG) health services.

Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, AM, CSC, said the ADF welcomed this opportunity to assist St John Ambulance PNG.

“We’re proud to play a part in supporting PNG’s emergency ambulance service, and ability to provide increased primary health care to communities and rural villages,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.

The PNG Troop Carrier ambulances were refurbished in Darwin by St John Northern Territory (NT).

St John NT CEO Judith Barker said, “Our Mechanical Workshop is responsible for building and maintaining the NT ambulance fleet which operates in often extreme weather and environmental conditions.

“These vehicles are dedicated off-road 4WD response vehicles.

“They will be used in remote areas, with rough terrain, for specialised medical emergency retrievals.”

Lieutenant General Bilton said Defence has delivered three ambulances in total to PNG in the past month, along with other critical supplies and equipment to assist in the country’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Defence is currently providing targeted assistance including technical and logistics support as part of the whole-of-Australian Government support to PNG,” he said.

“This has included transporting Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) personnel, medical equipment, vaccines and other humanitarian supplies to Port Moresby.

Australia and PNG share a strong relationship and this support is a natural extension of Defences long-standing partnership with the PNG Defence Force through the Defence Cooperation Program.

Port Stephens local Wendy Stein (OAM) has been advocating for better health outcomes in PNG for many years through the charity Save The Kula Babies.

Wendy Stein (OAM) told News Of The Area, “Australia has obligations to PNG from the past.

“We must continue to assist our nearest neighbour or the fragile health system will fail, which will be a humanitarian disaster which also threatens our security.

“There is the potential for many diseases to migrate to Australia from PNG such as tuberculosis and COVID-19.

“Rotary has been assisting mothers and babies.

“Shamefully, the mortality rate for women in childbirth in PNG is the highest in the Asia Pacific.

“We must do more,” she said.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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