Health professionals from Papua New Guinea (PNG), who completed a 12-week Graduate Certificate in Health Economics at Griffith University last year, have returned home keen to apply their new skills and make a difference.

23 health workers participated in the study program, which was funded by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia Awards as part of an ongoing partnership with Griffith.

Since returning to PNG, Graduate and Acting Deputy Director of Public Health at PNG’s New Ireland Provincial Health Authority, Martha Hilenungu Salihombo, has coordinated a Partnership Forum to campaign for immunisation programs to be delivered at local aid posts rather than district levels.

“When I presented [my project] to management, they could see that this is the way forward. Whereas previously, we were working in isolation,” Ms Salihombo said.

“We’ve realised that one key mechanism to get health services delivered is to involve the communities. [My management] now realise the importance of incorporating health services into the existing government system.”

The Graduate Certificate in Health Economics program has equipped participants with quantitative and analytical decision-making skills that are necessary to address investments in the PNG healthcare sector. The program has also propelled participants towards further study opportunities at Griffith.

Short course graduates Hannelly Kiromat-Geno and Kingston Namun

Following the course, Gigil Marme received a scholarship into a PhD program in Public Health in 2020, where he will be supervised by Dr Shannon Rutherford and A/Prof Neil Harris in public health. Gigil has also applied for a Griffith scholarship for tuition and living allowances.

Another graduate, Hannelly Kiromat-Geno, was recently promoted to Senior Project Manager at Marie Stopes PNG. Hannelly said she had thoroughly enjoyed the course project and developed advanced health economic skills. For her Graduate Certificate project, Hannelly carried out a systematic literature review, exploring the most cost-effective interventions Marie Stopes could fund for PNG youth.

“Completing the Graduate Certificate in Health Economics has given me the skillset to really look at the numbers, data and cost implications; as well as make more well-informed decisions,” Ms Kiromat-Geno said.

“Since I’ve come back, I’m a Senior Project Manager. This means a lot of responsibility and really looking at where I allocate the funding,” Ms Kiromat-Geno continued.

“Coupled with the research and going through the course itself, I’m in a better position to make informed decisions.”

Australia Awards Short Course graduate Tonny Basse

The course was delivered in conjunction with Griffith’s International Business Development Unit (IBDU), Griffith Health and the Griffith Business School (GBS).

Helen Bulle

IBDU Manager, Helen Bulle, congratulated graduates on their achievement.

“This is an important milestone for awardees,” Ms Bulle said. “This qualification will assist in addressing the need for quantitative and analytical skills in decision-making processes within the PNG healthcare sector.”

“IBDU works across diverse cultures, building capacity in emerging countries. We are proud to have designed and coordinated the Australia Awards Graduate Certificate in Health Economics alongside our colleagues at Griffith Health and GBS.”

Australia Awards Short Course Awards offer targeted programs tailored to develop knowledge and skills, address priority human resource development needs and build links between PNG and Australian organisations, in support of the PNG-Australia Partnership. To find out more, visit Australia Awards.

Established in 1991, IBDU brings together Griffith University’s world class education capabilities and its own project management and development assistance expertise to deliver specialised non-award and professional development courses, as well as assist in the development and management of international development projects.