When it comes to drivers of social and economic development, access to quality healthcare and a healthy population, are critical.
Australia Awards Scholarships continue to support Papua New Guineans to develop their skills and knowledge in the health sector – among other priority areas – in support of regional and national development.
Over the past 50 years, over 12,000 Papua New Guineans have studied in Australia, with study and research in health remaining a focus area, whether for long-term awards or short courses. Add to this Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships, which continue to support sectors such as midwifery and nursing through study opportunities in partner institutions in Papua New Guinea.
Here, we profile three women who exemplify how Australia Awards scholars and alumni are making their mark on service delivery and capacity development in PNG’s health sector.
Betty Mundua, from Simbu Province, completed a Master of Clinical Nursing at the University of Sydney as an Australia Awards scholar in 2013. She is currently the Infection Control Coordinator attached to the Infection Control Branch of the Angau Provincial Hospital in Lae, Morobe Province. Betty’s diverse role provides oversight in ensuring that infection control and prevention measures are implemented throughout the hospital.
‘[I’m responsible for] training of health care workers in line with infection control measures, doing infection control audits and surveillance. I’m also responsible for hospital waste management and hospital hygiene,’ says Betty.
Betty recently delivered training for the hospital staff from 29 clinical wards and 36 non-clinical sections, with a focus on the World Health Organization’s My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene principles.
“Infection control is about doing the little things like keeping our hands clean all the time,’ says Betty.
Betty is also working on a colour coding system for different sections of the hospital to prevent cross contamination.
She highlights ‘The Australia Awards scholarship enabled me to have a different way of thinking and analysing things and this is now helping me in my work.’
Lorraine Moore is also contributing to the PNG health sector after graduating with a Diploma in General Nursing from St. Barnabas School of Nursing, Milne Bay under the Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships program in 2016.
Lorraine says seeing her mother care for her sick uncle inspired her to study nursing. Since 2017, Lorraine has been working at Manus Provincial Hospital.
‘It was my first time to leave home (Milne Bay) and come to Manus. I missed my family. However, seeing the conditions here at the hospital, more staff were needed compared to back home,’ Lorraine says.
As a General Nurse, Lorraine supports the Sister in Charge at the adult outpatient and the accidents and emergency unit by attending to patient cases and collating data for reporting purposes. Lorraine says she loves taking care of her patients and supporting their recovery.
Recently completed Australia Awards scholar Lucy Solomon participated in the Certificate in Family and Child Health Short Course Award at Queensland University of Technology. Lucy is a midwife by profession and has worked as the Unit Coordinator for the Obstetrics and Gynaecology ward at Kerema General Hospital in Gulf Province. A role she has played for almost 15 years.
Lucy’s role involves vital responsibility to lead and ensure positive outcomes in her team, as well as teach and mentor colleagues.
A key reason she applied for the Australia Awards Short Course, as she points out, was the need to learn new knowledge and skills and expand her capability to identify needs and implement care to improve local child and family health outcomes in line with the national goals.
Lucy has identified several lessons she can take back to her work in PNG, notably in project management.
‘I have identified the issue in my community of pregnant women having unsupervised births. This poses a high risk to both mother and infant. I plan to involve my whole team and partners to identify a health improvement project for the community,’ she says.
Like many other Australia Awards scholars and alumni, these three women are making a direct contribution to healthcare in PNG. Australia Awards’ graduate impact in critical sectors such as midwifery and nursing which are making a real difference to communities around the country.
Taking midwifery as an example, the Australia Awards program to date has awarded nearly 600 In-PNG scholarships in this sector, with a successful completion rate of nearly 100 per cent and impressive contributions in the workforce post-study.
Betty, Lorraine and Lucy agree that – beyond their personal achievements – contributing over the long-term to an improved health system for Papua New Guineans is a major motivation.
‘I can’t do it all by myself, but to continue networking and sharing experiences towards the implementation of projects that hopefully will see a big impact on health care in PNG’, Lucy says.
Australia Awards offers prestigious scholarships funded by the Australian Government to Papua New Guinea’s current and future leaders for study in Australia and PNG. Through study and research, awardees develop the skills and knowledge to drive change, make positive contributions to development and build enduring people-to-people links.