As PNG continues its response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Australia Awards Short Course graduates are sharing their health sector expertise around the country – at a time when this is more important than ever.

Twenty-three PNG health professionals from 11 provinces completed the 12-week Graduate Certificate in Health Economics in late 2019.  The course was delivered at Griffith University in Australia.

The graduates – over half women – are now applying their skills in support of health capacity building, health system investment and the PNG-Australia Partnership.

Among the graduates is Acting Deputy Director of Public Health at New Ireland Provincial Health Authority, Ms Martha Hilenungu Salihombo.

Since completing the Short Course, Martha 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.”

Another graduate, Ms Hannelly Kiromat-Geno (pictured above left), was recently promoted to Senior Project Manager at Marie Stopes PNG.  For Hannelly, a highlight of the Short Course was developing her advanced health economic skills.

For her work-based project – part of all Australia Awards Short Course programs – 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 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.