Lutheran Health Services PNG

We met with the acting CEO of Lutheran Health Services (LHS), Sister Stella, and the other people in the office in Lae. I felt this was a very worthwhile meeting, as we found out about the difficulties that Lutheran Health Services face trying to maintain good health clinics in remote areas as well as in main centres and towns. They would like to see quality health service for all. However LHS Head Office in Lae does not receive Government funding and the staff are not paid by Government. Hence funding is an issue.

Solar panels

A number of centres now have solar panels which are such a great help, especially at night when many of the emergencies happen. The health workers and the people say a very big thank you to LWA for lighting and power. Main centres like Yagaum and Gaubin would also like solar panels as the cost of fuel to run generators is huge.

As much as the solar panels are a great help to health clinics they also pose a very big problem and that is the maintenance of them. There is only one man, Sopu Natiwe, available to do the maintenance on all solar equipment. Transport to places and equipment are very expensive. Are we able to assist in this area?

Birthing kits

The mention of birthing kits brought a great smile to these workers as they related the stories of the joy and smiles on the faces of new mothers as they were given what they thought was the most wonderful gift for them and their new baby. In 2010, the practice of village midwives was stopped. Now the only births in the village are if they happen unexpectedly. All mothers are now encouraged to come into health clinics to have their babies.

Even so, please keep packing birthing kits as they are also an encouragement gift for the mothers who come to the clinic for the birth of their baby.

For this to be successful, the expectant mothers need to come into the centres ahead of the anticipated birthing time. So to assist families, LHS put to us a new project. They would like assistance with waiting houses. These houses would be built of bush materials and provide accommodation for the whole family while the mother waits to have her baby. Are we able to assist in some way?

Medical supplies

They say thank you very much for medical supplies that we send up in the container. Please keep them coming. Also many of the clinics have very basic equipment and often not enough. Any doctors or nurses who have extra equipment e.g. stethoscopes, these would be appreciated. Also monetary donations towards the purchase of such items would be appreciated.

Lutheran School of Nursing, Madang

What a joy to visit this school that was set up by Ken Cramer and Margaret Voigt! Students interested in becoming nurses are keen to do their training here, so the Lutheran School of Nursing have to turn many applications down each year. They are only able to take in 30 students a year into the first year course. The nursing training is a three year course. The midwifery course is a one-year course which they can do after they have gained a number of years experience at a health clinic as a nurse. They take in 20 nurses each year for midwifery.

The grounds are kept clean and tidy by the students doing community work in the afternoons. There was no graffitti or rubbish lying around. The staff are to be congratulated on their teaching and the good learning atmosphere here. The library was well organised but most of the books were out of date. They have a number of computers where the students can access information on the internet but the college struggles to fund internet connection.

For whatever reason government funding to private health services is limited and yet the country’s quality of health would be in a much worse state if it wasn’t for places like Lutheran Health Services.

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