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Papua New Guinea
MSF in Papua New Guinea, 2012
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There are high levels of domestic, sexual, social and tribal violence in Papua New Guinea, yet medical care remains inadequate. In some places it is not available at all. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing comprehensive treatment and psychosocial care, with a particular emphasis on victims of domestic and sexual violence. Local people are becoming more aware that MSF’s family support centre in the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae offers a confidential and safe space, and the team provided free, comprehensive medical and counseling services to some 6,500 patients in 2012. MSF runs a second centre in Tari, in Southern Highlands region. As there is an enormous need for emergency medical care– often after assault – the team also offers emergency surgery at Tari hospital. Violence is viewed as a police issue and the medical condition of victims is frequently overlooked in Papua New Guinea. Advocacy and training are critical aspects of MSF’s activities. Teams conducted training on responding to the physical and mental health needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence at hospitals and health centers in all but two of the country’s 22 provinces.
Improving Access to Health Care in Bougainville
Decades of conflict have weakened the health system in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and MSF is helping refurbish several facilities. Construction of a six-bed tuberculosis ward and accommodation for caregivers at Buin health centre were completed in 2012. MSF also carried out significant renovations and upgrades to the health centre’s water and sanitation, laboratory and pharmacy infrastructure. A maternity waiting home in Buin provides accommodation for women in their final weeks of pregnancy, so they are close to the health center when they go into labor and do not have to travel for long periods on poor roads during an emergency. Staff support clinical care, including maternal healthcare, at Buin health centre and five health facilities in the area. Patient numbers increased following an awareness campaign conducted in local communities and improvements to the referral system.
He can bash me up badly. He can use iron, knives to threaten me. How can I fight him? He is a man and he has more strength than me. He called me one time and was threatening me, saying, “I’ll break your arms, I’ll break your legs.” That evening he came and surprised me and was chasing me around my big sister’s house. He went to my workplace and my boss told me, “You’re new here, and seems like you are facing this problem. You are not going to work.” So I lost my job. When I share my problems with the counselors, I feel free. If I can stand in public and tell everyone, it’s good for me. They know I’ve gone through it and it can help them too.
At the end of 2012 MSF had 201 staff in Papua New Guinea. MSF started working in the country in1992.