In September 2016, Canadian Salvationists April Barthau and Marco Harrera Lopizic embarked on a two-year mission in Papua New Guinea. A nurse and a doctor, they will be running The Salvation Army’s medical clinic in Port Moresby. In this monthly blog for Salvationist.ca, they share their experiences.
In February, I had the opportunity to visit some villages in Papua New Guinea (PNG) where The Salvation Army has health clinics and health outposts.
One of these villages is Boregaina, which is two hours away from Port Moresby with a population of around 10,000 people. The village does not have a continuous supply of running water or electricity, so the Army provides a generator and emergency water supply for the clinic. Six nurses keep the clinic operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This clinic is the only way for people to access medical services in this village and the surrounding villages. My visit was the first time a doctor had come to this clinic, to give medical advice and education to the nurses, and to see some complicated cases. The village people received me with joy and gratitude.
One hour further into the mountains, along hard-to-maneuver dirt roads, is Kokorogoro. In this village of 2,000 people, The Salvation Army has a health outpost with two health workers who provide all kinds of services, including baby delivery. Transportation is a huge issue—especially in the rainy season when dirt roads turn to mud. It is often a challenge to get complicated cases from these rural areas to the city. In the future, we look forward to travelling to other clinics that are only available by dinghy and walking.
Finally, I had the privilege to visit Papa Clinic, which is one hour west of Port Moresby. As with Boregaina, this clinic has challenges with having a continuous water and electricity supply. You might expect that because the clinic is so close to the capital, it would be better off, but this is not the case.
Papua New Guinea faces significant challenges with respect to organizing health services due to the country’s rural terrain and lack of basic services such water, electricity, waste disposal and sewage. However, it is refreshing to see how much the healthcare workers do with so little and how they always try to provide the best care possible. They are thirsty for knowledge. We are grateful to have the experience to learn so much more from them than we are able to teach.
As they continue their ministry, April and Marco request prayers for the following:
- Safety on the roads during the rainy season
- The upcoming election in April
- Resources to maintain and upgrade the buildings where the Army provides medical services