Papua New Guinea
By Hannah Ellis
Planning
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Why did I choose Papua New Guinea?
 Third world
 Established elective opportunities
 Somewhere ‘different’
 Partially English speaking
 Different culture
Where is Papua New Guinea?
What’s PNG like?
 Mountainous terrain with coastal
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lowlands
Tropical climate
Prone to natural disasters
Chief of State Queen Elizabeth II
85% of population subsistence farmers
Exports oil, gold, copper ore, logs, palm
oil, coffee, cocoa, crayfish & prawns
(CIA 2004)
How did I plan my trip?
 Searched internet for possible elective
opportunities
 Used MMA Healthserve site
 Downloaded AHS application form and
applied by fax, post & email
 Called the office to ensure application had
arrived
 Applied for visa
 Found out about vaccinations
My Rough Budget
 Flights + Tax £1430
 Insurance £83
 Visa £7
 Vaccinations + antimalarials £200
 Accommodation + Food with Health workers whilst
on placement £130
 Extra food + bottled water £200
 Equipment (mosquito net, medical pack, clothing etc)
£200
 Accommodation en route £150
 Contingency (e.g. 2 changes of flights at £50 each)
£100
 Total £2500
What were my concerns and
difficulties?
 I might not be accepted – waiting for ever
 I don’t have enough money
 I know nothing about the country
 How would I plan everything
 Would I be ok without friends and family
 It’s a bit far if anything goes wrong
 Other people’s reactions/worries
How did I overcome my concerns
and difficulties?
 Reassurance that other people were in similar
situations
 Reading up on the country and culture
 Going on an elective preparation day
 Applying for funding from plenty of people
 Being very organised and getting as much info
as possible
How did I get funding?
Freda Ashmore – unsuccessful
RCN Travel Award - unsuccessful
Other funding opportunities
- 15 letters
- 7 Negative
- 8 Positive
MMA Healthserve Grant
Total Funding Promised: £2025
First Impressions
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Climate
The very basic health centre
My accommodation
The facilities – or lack of!
The people
Outline of Healthcare System
 Churches provide 50% of healthcare
 Remote villages do not have access to
healthcare facilities
 85% of people live in rural communities
 Use of Aid Posts & Clinic Patrols
 Only 7 Drs per 100,000 people
 Most doctors work in urban hospitals
(Sources: AHS 2004, UNICEF 2002)
Health Issues in PNG
 Poor immunisation coverage
 Poor antenatal care
 Malaria, measles, pneumonia and
diarrhoea major causes of morbidity and
mortality
 Clean water and sanitation limited to urban
areas
 Domestic violence is common
(Source: UNICEF 2004)
Clinical Speciality
 From birth to death
 Clinics
 Deliveries
 Tropical Medicine
 Trauma
 Minor surgery
 Education
My Role
 Jack of All Trades!!
 Screening in OPD
 Giving treatment & dressing wounds
 Delivering babies
 Prescribing drugs (under supervision!)
 Clinic Patrols
 Patient referral & education
Differences in Healthcare system
 Role of the nurse
 Lack of facilities
 Distance travelled to health centres
 Lack of education
 Paying for treatment
 Commitment of staff
 Voluntary input
Language and Cultural differences
 Over 700 languages spoken in PNG
 66% of population are literate
 Life expectancy 57 yrs
 44% Protestant, 22% Catholic and 34%
pantheistic beliefs
 Indigenous beliefs very important, often
underlying approaches to health
(Sources: UNICEF 2002, CIA 2004)
How did I cope?
 Learning Pidgin English – compiled own
list of phrases
 Buying & eating local foods
 Dressing appropriately
 Accepting the way of life
 Making the best of every situation
 Going with the flow
Main areas of learning
 What is normal for us is not normal for
everybody
 The skill of symptomatic diagnosis
 Patience
 The importance of education
 We are so lucky
 I can make a difference
The Experience
 Most interesting thing: learning Pidgin
English
 Most shocking thing: the fate of triplets
 Most exciting thing: going on village
patrol
 Something I thought I’d never do, but
did: deliver babies
For Future Travellers
Top 10 most useful things to take:
 Water purification tablets
 Maglite
 Mosquito repellent
 Leatherman
 Sunscreen
 Sarong
 Personal CD player
 Decent walking sandals
 Zip-off trousers/skirt
 Non-sterile gloves
Top 10 most useful tips
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Have a few days in Cairns on route to alleviate jet lag
Don’t believe the Aussie tales about PNG
Change all money needed for PNG before arriving
there
Wear a money belt (for own peace of mind)
Have a place booked in Australia for return journey
Take photos of family, friends, house, city etc etc
Go with an open mind
Remember everything you see is ‘normal’ for the
people
Eat the local diet (within reason!)
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
Further Information
 Lonely Planet Guide: Papua New Guinea- see also
www.lonelyplanet.com (Info on country & culture)
 www.ahs-png.org (Anglican Health Service)
 www.healthserve.org (Medical Missionary Organisation)
 www.fco.gov.uk (UK Foreign Office)
 www.lifesystems.co.uk (Equipment and advice for travel)
 www.unicef.org/infobycountry/papuang.html (PNG info & stats)
 http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/pp.html
(PNG info & stats)
 www.calibercreations.com/pisin (Pidgin English dictionary)
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Papua New Guinea