Photo: SHPHA Chief Executive Officer Dr Joseph Birisi addressing the working committee that was set up to address issues affecting the Pimaga Rural Hospital.
Oil Search Foundation (OSF) support has made it possible for Southern Highlands Provincial Health Authority (SHPHA) to start a rotational program for doctors to Pimaga Rural Hospital in Kutubu.
The rural hospital, located more than forty kilometres from Mendi town, reachable by rough roads, has been without a doctor for over eleven years.
It’s remoteness, limited government services and unmaintained residential buildings contributed to keeping doctors away.
OSF assisted the SHPHA change this situation by refurbishing a house to accommodate doctors, providing logistics for doctors to travel to Pimaga and facilitating partnership meetings to obtain financial support to improve Pimaga Rural Hospital from a range of stakeholders.
Doctors from the provincial hospital in Mendi will now spend two weeks at a time at Pimaga to provide medical services to its catchment population starting this month.
SHPHA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Joseph Birisi, said they are pleased and fortunate to have partners like OSF and others who are
committed to the delivery of critical health services in the rural areas of the province.
“Without OSF refurbishing the doctor’s house at Pimaga, we would not be able to send the doctors there in the first place. This shows how much we can achieve if we work in partnership,” Dr Birisi said.
Dr Birisi said that doctors on rotation will also assess and inform improvement plans of other clinical services like the operating theatre, pathology and radiology unit.
“While this is a level four (4) rural hospital, it does not meet National Health Service Standards for such a health facility,” Dr Birisi said.
“The rotational program for doctors is an initial part of a redevelopment exercise for Pimaga involving a number of important partners including OSF,” he said.
Stephanie Copus-Campbell, Executive Director for OSF, said the Foundation was pleased to assist the Pimaga community access doctors.
“To have doctors around more regularly at Pimaga after 11 years is a big achievement in itself,” she said.
” We are committed to working with the SHPHA, the local community and other partners to continue improving services at the rural hospital,” she said.
Ms Copus-Campbell further emphasised that to address challenges in remote areas, partnerships was the way to go.
Other stakeholders of the rural hospital include the local community, special project authorities, the District Development Authority (DDA) and Mineral Resource Development Company (MRDC).
Each partner has pledged support and will sign a partnership agreement with the SHPHA outlining their contribution towards the facilities development by the end of February.
SHPHA has also engaged additional three nurses, including a midwife, to work at the hospital. Arrangements have also been made to have other skilled officers from the provincial hospital in Mendi visit Pimaga on a rotational basis until staffing vacancies are adequately filled.
Possible options for rotating clinical specialists at Pimaga are also being explored.