Mia and Masi, sisters aged five and eight, had the opportunity to be diagnosed and receive treatment for tuberculosis (TB) due to the partnership between MAF and Kompiam hospital to conduct health patrols to remote villages in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Mia and Masi live in the border area of East Sepik Province and Enga. It’s a very remote area, surrounded by high mountains and steep valleys. Around 300 people plus children live around the airstrip, with a few hundred more living within a two hour walk. To reach the town of Wewak would take about three days walking through the jungle, followed by three days on a motor canoe. In the absence of mobile phone coverage in the village, people hike four hours to a nearby mountain to catch a signal.
From a small aid post, two village health volunteers provide basic healthcare for one hour a day Monday to Saturday. More professional medical treatment is possible just 2-4 times a year when MAF flies a medical team in from Kompiam hospital to hold clinics.
On this occasion, almost 50 patients were examined by the doctors, with men, women and children attending the clinic. Most cases seen were generalized fungal infection of the skin, osteoarthritis, and suspected TB cases. Two pregnant women had ultrasound examinations. Hospital staff also provided immunisations and training in health awareness.
Thankfully there was space for Mia, Masi and their care giver to join the flight out. A young man followed ten days later on a subsequent MAF flight. In Kompiam they received positive diagnoses of TB and two months of in-patient treatment. They then returned home, continuing with treatment for a further four months.