OSF reports on the importance of partnership

Despite major challenges (first among them, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake), the Oil Search Foundation (OSF) 2018 Annual Report captures a year of considerable success in efforts to deliver better health and education outcomes, develop future leaders, and empower PNG women.

For OSF Executive Director Stephanie Copus-Campbell, the report’s main lesson is the importance of partnership. “When Papua New Guineans work together, just about anything is possible. Every success that we’ve had this year has come through listening to people and working with others. We can go above and beyond when we work in partnership.

The last 12 months have also reinforced just how important it is for us to work within government systems. Provincial Health Authorities in Hela and Southern Highlands showed strong leadership especially in addressing the impacts of the earthquake, the polio outbreak, and getting services up and running. A great deal of work remains to be done but we can all feel very proud of what we have helped partners achieve n this difficult year. “

That leadership led to an extraordinary 436% increase in the number of vaccinations across Hela, Southern Highlands and Gulf provinces, helping to prevent major outbreaks of diseases such as polio, TB and measles. This was made possible by PHA leadership and strong partnerships between national and provincial government agencies, UN agencies, the Australian Government and logistical support from Oil Search.

OSF also supported a 41% increase in outreach patrols and health facilities to enable almost 3,000 women to deliver healthy babies. Through services provided by OSF funded partner, Marie Stopes PNG, many women and men took up safe family planning exceeding national targets”.

Over 250 people completed treatment courses for TB – a 27% increase on 2017.

Restoring water supplies to health facilities remained an ongoing focus, as did working with governments and donors to ensure the direct flow of funds to frontline health services.

OSF’s partnership approach also bore fruit in efforts to build the next generation of PNG leaders. Working with six tertiary institutions across the country, the Foundation continued to grow its scholarship program with 14 young people successfully completing their 2018 studies and 18 students selected for 2019. With Buk bilong Pikinini it set up or restored literacy libraries in three locations helping children learn to read.

Programs continued targeting the important role of women in PNG. While 2018 included a major forum on family and sexual violence (FSV) and a 2000-person-strong march to raise awareness, the Foundation took particular pride in Bel isi PNG – a new service for FSV survivors which is a public private partnership actively improving available services

Other highlights came from the “Champions of Change’ program that enables OSF staff to promote issues like addressing violence in their local communities, engaging communities in building decent toilets and safe water supplies, and delivering education on a range of health and safety issues.

But there’s no doubt that the year’s defining moment was the February earthquake which so devastated the Southern Highlands and Hela. In the weeks that followed, OSF established the distribution centre at Moro which enabled the delivery of 460 tonnes of food, shelter and supplies to over 200,000 people, together with emergency medical kits. As part of recovery efforts, it directly delivered 46 health clinics to 56 communities, reaching thousands of people with basic health services. This effort was made possible by Oil Search Limited’s support and partnerships with multiple national, provincial and international partners.

By late 2018 every health facility affected had been reopened after experiencing damaged infrastructure and equipment, loss of water supplies and for some, outbreaks of violence in surrounding communities. For OSF Chairman Peter Botten, these efforts were just the latest example of “how quickly our team steps up, time and time again, to face what can sometimes seem like impossible challenges.

I have often heard that tackling complex problems in PNG is very difficult and sometimes too hard. But the Foundation has never shied away from a challenge. We will always find a way to achieve sustainable results and do so through innovation and partnership.”