“I have I always had a broad interest when it came to medicine. That is why I have specialised in international health and tropical medicine. With this degree I am trained to work in low resource settings in developing countries. Because I love to travel this degree is ideal for me. It gives me the opportunity to combine my to passions, medicine and seeing the world. Before I came to PNG I had travelled through Africa, South East Asia, Iran and Australia. Meeting people from all these different places in the world is fascinating. What I realised from my travels is that although people all over the wold have different cultures and habits in the core people are the same. When you are open to people practically all people are friendly, open, interested and helpful. In every country people have taught me new things. This could be something practical, as building with bamboo or more spiritual, like learning what things really matter in life.
In my work I try to focus on making sustainable improvements. While working here as doctor is good for the individual patient, nothing will change in the long term if I am only focused upon treating individual patients. My aim is to build capacity within the healthcare system for sustainable change. One of the ways that I am trying to do this is by visiting local Aid Posts. There are six Aid Posts in around Namatanai. The purpose of the Aid Post is to make medical help available close to home and to form a buffer between the hospital and the patient. At the moment the Aid Posts are not fully functioning due to lack of medication, equipment and under supported staff. As a consequence people have to travel further for medical help and the hospital is over flowing with patients. Last week I went to Kudukudu and Matantiduk Aid Posts. With me I brought a family planning and vaccination nurse. In this way I can discuss problems with the local Aid Post worker and supply equipment and provide training. With stronger Aid Post, people have to travel less for medical attention, Aid Post workers will feel more supported and pressure will be taken off the Namatanai hospital.
In my daily work in the hospital I focus on teaching students and staff. I am aware that when you arrive somewhere new, people need to get to know you first. You can’t come in and just start telling people what to do or change. First you have to understand why things are the way they are and then you can offer suggestions for improvement. But I need to be patient, the local staff have been working in their roles often for many years and changing their habits takes time. They have seen a lot of overseas doctors coming and going, I do not want to be just another annoying doctor that tells them what they do wrong. At the ward level, I can see that among the nurses, there is a more informed attitude toward use of antibiotic compared to the outpatient department. This is a result of months of training by my previous ADI colleagues. It shows that change is possible but takes time.”