Provincial CHS – Challenges of Rural Hospitals
Yet the dedicated health workers at these rural health centres continue each day to do their jobs with compassion, humility, kindness and dedication as that is what God has called them to do.
Having the opportunity to visit a rural health centre was an eye-opener for the writer of this story as a better understanding of Church run health facilities and the challenges the health workers face were seen firsthand.
The Raihu District Hospital in Aitape, Sandaun Province which serves people in the Aitape, Lumi, Nuku, Telefomin and Vanimo is a facility of the Christian Health Services.
The hospital currently has only one doctor, 17 nursing officers and 25 community health workers (CHWs) to cater for all the units at the hospital.
Current statistics show that the Raihu outpatient sees 300 – 400 patients daily, which is around 2,000 – 3,000 a month.
And the inpatients yearly is 2,000 -3,000. Hospital Matron Sr. Margaret Asuman said many patients came to Raihu to seek treatment and staffing was a problem at the hospital.
“This is a big hospital that sees many patients. Disease trends continue to go up. We need more manpower to effectively serve the people.” Family Health, Obstetrics and Medical & Surgical are the units at the hospital that require more staff as most patients sought help from these units provinces in PNG. We have no government support and in rural areas, Churches are the ones that serve the people,” Sr. Margaret said.
“It’s very hard. There are plenty of things such as lack of manpower, spoilt equipment and run down facilities but we continue to serve the people because who will help them if we stop? They depend on us. They are Gods people.”
Sr Margaret praised her nurses whom she said worked tirelessly day and night to serve the people despite the many challenges.
Meanwhile, Rural Health Coordinator for the Aitape Diocese Gemma Yakam areas especially in places like Nuku.
“When the roads are bad we walk to the communities with our medical supplies. Life in rural areas is very hard and even harder brining health services there due to geographical locations.”
She added that Church run health services always served the people better despite many challenges and the government needed to support them in rural health service delivery as most of the health facilities in rural areas were run by the churches. Aitape Rural Health Services looks after 14 health facilities and has 105 funded staff.