The Initiatives of the CHPNG

After extensive consultation, three collaborative ventures were identified and initiated in 2003-2004:

  • + Strengthening the role of day care and drop in centres and of people living with HIV. In the national response to the epidemic, this was undertaken together with NAPWA and a range of PNG partners.
  • + The development of new approaches to strengthening the capacity of health care teams for HIV care and their piloting across the country. This was undertaken together with the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) and a range of PNG partners.
  • + Material support to Port Moresby General Hospital, a gift programme.

Day Care & Drop in Centres (2003 – 2004)

Strengthening the role of day care and drop in centres

In October 2003, fifteen people living with HIV, together with their carers, were funded to travel from PNG and attend a workshop in Cairns.

They visited local centres for people living with HIV and, after observing, attended a two day reflection session where they discussed what they had seen and the learnings they thought could be taken back to their communities. After returning to PNG, they were asked to tell their stories about the changes they had been able to make in their own communities.

What was learnt is best summed up as:

  • + Changing the language from disease and death to living positively
  • + The importance of involving the whole community
  • + A desire to recruit volunteers in a society not used to volunteering
  • + Creating a loving and caring atmosphere at their day care centres
  • + Talking to people at their centres about nutrition, personal hygiene, management of infection and dealing with rape victims.

Strengthening Capacity of Health Care Teams (2003-2007)
The development of new approaches to strengthening the capacity of health care teams for HIV care. Making a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of the people of PNG is the overriding aim of the CHPNG. However, aims are one thing, implementation is another. It is very clear that in PNG, the objective can only be accomplished if worthwhile support is given to the local health workers.

In 2003, the CHPNG, in partnership with the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) identified the need to build the capacity of health teams to care for people with HIV. In consultation with many agencies in Australia and PNG a different approach to training was developed – one that would have more value than lecture-based courses. A team-based approach was adopted, where healthcare workers from similar geographical regions were encouraged to gather and work together to form multidisciplinary teams based on the local resources. The teaching materials and style incorporate local traditions of storytelling and drama, and getting them right means that other organisations can use the resources as well.

Over 400 doctors, nurses, health administrators, counsellors and lab technicians had attended the workshops run by the Collaboration. The CHPNG and ASHM are now partnering with other community organisations based in PNG to expand the workshops to reach and help an even greater number of people.

ASHM was also excited about the outcomes from the workshops. According to Edward Reis, International Programs Manager, ASHM. “Not only were participants enthusiastic and involved during the workshop, but they have taken their new skills and knowledge back to their workplaces and, as a team, started applying them to develop improved and expanded systems of care for people with HIV.”

Moreover, Edward Reis says these initiatives are being applied not just within PNG’s hospitals and health centres, but important networks are being established between health centres and their communities. “These networks will help to build capacity, reduce stigma and discrimination against people with HIV in PNG and sustain improved systems of care.”

The initiative is empowering local people to provide the knowledge and care that is needed to cope with HIV in one of the most diverse and vulnerable cultures on earth.

Towards the end of 2007, the collaboration received a proprosal from ASHM that focussed on providing clinical training and mentoring in support of PNG National and PNG Catholic Healths Strategic Plans, as well as improving laboratory capacity to support care and treatment of patients.