26 June 2024 Healthcare | Sustainability

PanAust sponsored Interplast medical team arrives in Papua New Guinea to perform life-changing surgeries

A PanAust sponsored specialist medical team arranged by Interplast Australia has flown into Papua New Guinea to perform up to 40 specialist and reconstructive surgeries in the East Sepik Province.

The visit aims to provide life-changing surgeries at no cost to disadvantaged communities and is part of PanAust subsidiary, Frieda River Limited’s, ongoing commitment to improving healthcare access and outcomes in landowner communities.

The five-person team, comprising experienced surgeons, nurses and an anaesthetist, will be conducting consultations and a variety of essential procedures in one of Papua New Guinea’s remotest hospitals. The operations are critical for enhancing the quality of life and restoring functionality for individuals who have limited or no access to surgical care. This time, the visit will include a number of patients who were treated by Interplast in 2017 being supported to travel from the West Sepik Province to Wewak, for follow up and additional surgery if required.

The medical team will work alongside local medical and nursing personnel at Wewak’s Great Chief Somare Memorial Hospital (formerly known as Boram General Hospital) to deliver approximately 30-40 plastic and reconstructive surgeries including cleft lip and palate repairs, surgery to reconstruct injuries from burns, and surgery for other congenital and acquired conditions.

Frieda River Project Director Phil McCormack said that the surgeries offered hope and healing to those who need it most.

“We know how difficult it is for remote communities to access specialist healthcare and I’ve witnessed first-hand how transformative the surgeries can be for patients and their families.

“It’s a powerful reminder of how we can deliver immediate change in a way that benefits local communities and provincial governments,” he said. “PanAust and Frieda River Limited are proud to be able to offer these surgeries to the people of Papua New Guinea and to continue a long-standing partnership with Interplast.”

This visit, scheduled to last for a week, is a collaborative effort with local hospitals, healthcare providers and provincial governments to ensure that measurable impact is delivered in the area.

In addition to performing surgeries, Interplast’s team will engage in knowledge exchange and training sessions with local medical staff to enhance their capacity to deliver procedures independently in the future, and better their pre and post operative surgery care.

“Although we don’t have an operational site, by working together with Interplast, we can ensure that the benefits of our presence here extends far beyond the duration of our stay, fostering long-term improvements in medical care and supporting the communities near our project site,” Mr McCormack said.

Interplast’s Director of International Programs Jess Hill said “Interplast is thrilled to have a specialist volunteer Australian plastic and reconstructive surgical team returning to Wewak, thanks to the support of PanAust. The team includes two of the plastic surgery team from Port Moresby joining the visit for the week, as part of their own professional development, further enhancing the long term, sustainable impacts of our work.

“Our thanks to the team at the Great Chief Somare Memorial Hospital and the East Sepik Provincial Health Authority for hosting this visit, and for arranging for patients from the communities in East and West Sepik to access much needed specialised reconstructive surgical care which would not otherwise be available in Wewak.’’

Since 2012, more than 250 people in the Asia Pacific have received life-changing clinical care, more than 50 clinicians have received clinical training opportunities, and hospital and health systems in two countries have benefitted from PanAust and Interplast’s support.