NEWS CENTRE

Healthy mothers, healthy babies, healthy villages’ – a Village Health Management Forum

Over 110 Community leaders, Village Birth Attendants, and representatives of key stakeholder organisations (Government & non-government) from across North Fly District came together for two days in Kiunga last week. The Village Health Management Forum on 2-3 March was the first of its kind in Western Province and possibly even Papua New Guinea. 

Keynote speaker, Hon Minister for Community Development Dame Carol Kidu opened the Forum with a call for community groups and organizations to join together for village health, as “health is everybody’s business”. Dame Carol then highlighted the importance of using an OPEN strategy – Ownership, Partnership, Empowerment and Networking.

Guest speakers from across the country showcased successful village health programs. A speaker from the Lutheran School of Nursing in Madang gave an overview of the Healthy Islands and Healthy Village approach, while representatives from the Central Province Division of Health, the Highlands and Western Province showed how such programs can make an impact on significant public health issues such as cholera, maternal and child health. 

The theme of the Forum was to determine how the group can collectively contribute to protecting women and children in rural and remote settings in Western Province. Groups identified challenges and action that can be taken both individually and collectively; most of these are achievable and the actions can be initiated in the near future. 

Action resulting from the Forum includes clarifying roles and responsibilities in village health programs; progressing towards implementing the full Village Health Volunteer program in North Fly; identifying available resources for village groups to tap into; and advocating for appropriate recognition and reward for volunteers whether through Government systems or other avenues.

Open Member for North Fly District, Western Province Mr Boka Condira and Western Province Provincial Administrator Mr William Goinau have pledged their support to developing village health programs in the Western Province further.

The Forum was initiated by Mercy Works Kiunga, specifically the coordinator of the Safe Motherhood program and sponsored by PNG Sustainable Development Program, North Fly Health Services Development Program, Ok Tedi Fly River Development Program and Ningerum Transport. A full report on the Forum proceedings will be released in the next month.

For further information contact maureen.sexton@mercy.org.au