Wesleyan Medicine Mission to Bougainville

Wesleyan Medicine Mission to Bougainville Jun 20-Jul 8, 2016

Report prepared by Dr Amanda Mitchell  

Michelle Yates (nurse, psychotherapist) and I (medical doctor) have recently returned from our third medical mission to Bougainville. 500 needy people received free medical consultation, education, and medication at 8 under resourced rural medical clinics. Nurses received training. Medical and dental supplies were gifted.

Background: The Wesleyan Medicine Mission to Bougainville in 2013 was a first for us and a major step of faith. We worked within the Bougainville health structure and supported the local nurses. We quickly developed a lovely symbiotic relationship with the local communities and churches. The success of the mission paved the way for the creation of Wesleyan Medicine. We realized sponsorship needed to be developed if the trip was to be repeated.

The next Bougainville Wesleyan Medicine Mission in 2014 was even more successful: more connections made, more open doors and another 500 needy people receiving medical aid. Nurses again so grateful for our training and supplies. Local communities benefiting. I received some sponsorship through my local church and medical practice. Our systems were working, so long as the team was small, adaptable, and resourceful and worked within the existing health system.

The recent 2016 mission was even more significant in terms of open doors and connections and impact. The Wesleyan Medicine Christmas Appeal was well supported.

The Wesleyan Medicine Mission was boosted by the following donations of goods and services in 2016-

  • Amanda Mitchell medical 250+ volunteer hours
  • Michelle Yates nursing and admin 250+ volunteer hours
  • Medical Aid Aboard 120 kg of medical supplies
  • Samit Patel of Greenhithe Pharmacy 10 kg of medication
  • Andrew and Michelle Davies of Care Pharmacy in Albany 20 kg of vitamins, sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Jonathon Cole, dentist, contributing dental tools
  • Westgate Medical Centre 10 kg of medication
  • The staff and patients of Westgate Medical Centre donated 300 pairs of spectacles and 200 sunglasses which were reconditioned by the Lions Club of Papakura
  • Virgin Air gave 50 kg free excess baggage
  • Isaac Garnean, ABG Wesleyan Church Secretary hosting and support
  • Nashon, ABG Wesleyan Church Superintendent hosting and support
  • WHO ambulance from Tonu for 1 week and driver, sponsored by United Church
  • Accommodation in medical or church facilities at Tonu, Tonuhu and Tanamalo.

Significant opportunities realized by the Wesleyan Medicine Mission in 2016

  • 8 Hospitals and Clinics with open doors, relationship building with nurses and 500 patients treated at Buka, Tonu, Monoitu, Katukuh, Konga, Tanohu, Hurai and Lemanmanu clinics
  • Redistribution of medication amongst clinics plus supply
  • Replacement of multiple batteries in medical equipment
  • Training of nurses and Health Extension Officers
  • Met with John Dawson, President Emeritus of Mercy Ships International
  • Met with with Jeffry Feeger, renowned Bougainvillean painter
  • Met with Connelly and family, doing Masters in HR, Waikato NZ
  • Stayed with George of YWAM PNG, manager of Mapang House in PNG
  • Met with Mali and Alice Endolo, Health Secretary WMC PNG
  • Met with Clement Totavun Health Secretary of ABG
  • Met with Dr Antony Pumpara, recently retired Health Secretary of ARB
  • Met with Dr Tommy Wotsia, Health Secretary of Buka Hospital
  • Met with Dr Cyril Imako, CEO of Buka Hospital
  • Met with Dr Reinhard Lorenz, Honorary Vice Counsel to PNG Govt
  • Stayed with Rev Samuel, bible college tutor and pastor of Tanohu Church
  • Stayed with and ministered to Lio and Sifa, NZ Wesleyan Youth Team
  • Met with Marilyn Havini, wife of the late Mr Moses Havini, human-rights advocates and passionate, peaceful proponents of independence for Bougainville since the 1970s.
  • Met with Dr Joe Vilosi of Arawa Hospital, Bougainville Island
  • Met with Kathleen Pearce, Development Counsel for NZ High Commission
  • Met and spent time with 6 NZ police officers stationed in Bougainville including Les Paterson, Area Commander.
  • Visited the Panguna mine location with Isaac, Nashon and Moses
  • Arranged funding and transfer of 5 extremely unwell patients from rural areas to Buka Hospital. Gave some funding for ongoing care.

Bougainville’s recovery from its internal and international conflicts of the 1980s and 1990s remains agonizingly slow. The ABG government has limited funds. Its relationship with PNG remains strained. There is a generation of uneducated, angry restless people. People are suffering and dying from simple medical and dental problems. The clinics are becoming better resourced but the nurses are overworked and most are past retirement age. There has been no nurse training school in ABG for 30 years! Finally one has opened this year. There are 10 doctors at Buka Hospital and only one doctor on Bougainville Island. The population of ABG is about 300 000. Other doctors have not visited the rural clinics between my 3 visits over the past 4 years. I have been able to diagnose and treat large numbers of people in rural areas with diabetes, hypertension, gastritis, asthma and chronic infections. Most importantly I have educated the nurses on how to diagnosis and treat these ongoingly. NZ has an important role to play in helping Bougainville to flourish.

One day I hope Wesleyan Medicine will no longer be so desperately needed. Currently these missions make a huge positive difference. Michelle and I have worked hard to meet leaders of many different organizations (listed) to raise the issues and encourage systems to enable other doctors and nurses to volunteer. These meetings are ongoing. The ABG national referendum on independence is proposed for June 2019 and we all hope for a peaceful process, unity and reconciliation. I propose a fourth Wesleyan Medicine trip before 2019.

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