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Child being administered vaccine

Receiving health care for those living in rural areas is not easy. It can mean walking over forested mountains or navigating fast flowing rivers. These conditions can make it especially difficult for seriously unwell or older people, small children and pregnant women.

For health service providers, accessing communities to deliver health care can also be difficult and dangerous. But when government, development partners and other non-government organisations work together these barriers can be overcome.

Such was the case with the recent integrated health patrol to 19 villages along the Turama river in Kikori district, Gulf Province. Oil Search Foundation (OSF), Gulf Provincial Health Authority (Gulf PHA) and Kikori District Health Services together embarked on a challenging journey which saw children receive immunisation, pregnant mothers receive a check-up and the sick treated.

It was a six-hour voyage from Kikori station down the waterway, across the sea and up the Turama river. Heavy-rain and winds did not stop this journey. The team, made up of doctors, nurses, community health workers and volunteers were all determined to deliver the much-needed health service.

CEO for Gulf PHA, Dr Paul Wari said, “We understand the need that exists in remote communities, but given the logistical challenges faced, we aren’t able to reach most of them. Working in partnership to deliver services is vital. We are grateful to OSF who enabled us to gain access to often-neglected populations.”

“Our visit brought the local people real hope. When word reached the community that we were on the ground, they turned up in large numbers to receive help. Many came from far away villages. For them, this was their only opportunity to get medical care.”
- Dr Paul Wari Gulf PHA - CEO

A local father from Komaiu village, Tetere Farapo said, “My son is seven years old. He could have missed out completely from receiving his measles immunisation, if it wasn’t for this health patrol. Getting to the nearest aid-post means paddling my canoe for one full day, going up against the rain which we face almost every day and trying to avoid crocodiles that are not afraid to attack at any time. I am so grateful to Gulf PHA and OSF for bringing medical help to us.”

OSF Executive Director, Stephanie Copus-Campbell said, “Partnerships achieve increased benefits because expertise, skills and resources are shared. The recent health patrol to Turama is a great example of this. OSF, Gulf PHA and Kerema Health Services through a joint effort were able to deliver this important mission that saw the team attend to child and maternal health issues, tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory infections, family planning and COVID-19 awareness which were carried out successfully.”


Man being administered vaccine