Delivering Standard Treatment Manuals for better health outcomes in PNG

Australian Doctors International (ADI) continue to bring better healthcare to the people of Papua New Guinea thanks to the recent print run and delivery of 1,500 Standard Treatment Manuals to remote health workers, generously funded by the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby.

These manuals contain standard treatment guidelines, as directed by PNG’s National Department of Health, and play a vital role in helping to alleviate educational gaps for our frontline health partners working in remote communities. The manuals are highly valued as they are easy to use and provide exceptional guidance enabling healthcare workers to diagnose and treat a wide range of diseases in the weeks and months between ADI health patrols or other doctor visits.

Standard Treatment Manuals are divided into five areas of specialty: Adult Care, Child Care, Family Planning, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Australian Doctors International will deliver these life-saving resources to remote health facilities as part of our outreach health patrols in Western Province, West New Britain and New Ireland throughout 2020.

“It was evident in my early days with ADI, with its mission in PNG to improve health outcomes, that rather than supply only clinical services the greatest long term benefit was the continuing education and support of all health care workers,” ADI volunteer doctor Bruce Slonim recalls. “The provision of current Standard Treatment Manuals to the health sector is just one of the many current initiatives of ADI in this regard.”

“Standard Treatment Manuals are a prescriptive and detailed way of managing every clinical presentation and were often the only clinical resource available to health care workers who had in many instances little upskilling training since graduation. Unfortunately, while on patrol in 2013 I found that very few remote health facilities had these manuals and if present they were often out of date. Seeking to solve this problem, ADI gained permission to update and reformat the five manuals and in 2014 reprinted and distributed the updated manuals to health workers while on outreach patrols, during inservice training sessions, to hospital staff and to newly graduated health care workers in New Ireland Province. It was pleasing in subsequent visits to health facilities in following years to see the widespread use of these manuals. We saw a reduction in maternal morbidity and complications from child birth. We also saw improved malaria and respiratory management, as well as up to date family planning education as a result of this initiative,” Dr Slonim concludes.

Thanks to funding from the Australian Government, ADI have again printed an additional 1,500 Standard Treatment Manuals which outreach patrol teams will deliver to healthcare workers in remote communities in New Ireland, West New Britain and Western Province over 2020.

“The whole community will benefit from the support of ADI in providing these integral resources to our frontline health care workers,” Dr Lei from West New Britain Provincial Health Authority says. “Standard Treatment Manuals are an incredibly important training and clinical delivery resource to all of us working on the ground in remote areas. One example where the Obstetrics and Gynecology STM was essential was in diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy whilst in the remote southern coastal town of Kandrian in West New Britain. After using the manuals to diagnose the life-threatening condition, the healthcare worker contacted ADI who was then able to assist with get the mother airlifted to Kimbe Provincial Hospital in time to save her life”.

Continued access to healthcare and improved maternal health in PNG has been a focus for ADI during the COVID-19 State of Emergency period. Australian Doctors International acknowledges the support of the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby in helping to achieve this goal.

ADI Doctor Stories