Improving health services along Kokoda Track

Kokoda Track clinics and Village Health Volunteers will be able to provide better services to local communities following a major health census along the Kokoda corridor.

The Village Health Volunteers conduct health patrols along the track about every three months, with the support of the Kokoda Initiative.

On their last patrol in November 2016, they saw a total of 623 people, diagnosed two with Tuberculosis (TB) and provided antenatal support to eight new mothers.

The latest health census will provide valuable information to improve future patrols, and help Sohe and Hiri District health officials in Oro and Central provinces to better plan the services provided by clinics and health centres.

The volunteers use computer tablets and a World Bank app called Survey Solution to collect health data, and then upload it for analysis by health officers.

They record information on household composition; knowledge of TB and HIV; access to fresh water and sanitation facilities; and the immunisation status of children. Women of childbearing age are also asked about their pregnancy history.

The census is supported by the Australia-Papua New Guinea development partnership through the Kokoda Initiative, which works with local communities to improve health, education and sanitation and to strengthen economic livelihoods.

Kokoda Initiative Health Advisor, Dr Elout Vos, said the information would help improve health outcomes along the track.

[bweb_core_blockquote footer_text=”” position=”left” animation_type=”none” animation_delay=”500″]“We will have an actual baseline – a master list – and we can compare it to future results after some years. We can also provide the survey results to health centres and districts to help them in their planning and monitoring and evaluation as well,” he said.[/bweb_core_blockquote]

The volunteers attended a three-day training course in Sogeri last month to understand the survey questions and learn how to operate the computer tablets.

They aim to cover 1089 households in 70 villages in the Sogeri catchment during March. Similar training sessions will be conducted for Village Health Volunteers in Koiari and Kokoda in April 2017.

The Kokoda Initiative is a partnership between the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia to support health, education and sanitation improvements for Kokoda Track communities. It also helps to keep the track safe, maintain a radio network for track communities and ensure the Kokoda airstrip is properly maintained.

The program has been working closely with Hiri and Sohe districts for the past seven years to support basic health service delivery.

(Village Health Volunteer Mary Tony from Itikinumu, Sogeri, interviewing Pange Hewa at his house)