What it is About:
On April 13th, 2016 our first mobile HIV-AIDS clinic, a purpose-fitted Toyota Land Cruiser 78 Troop Carrier, was launched to serve poor rural communities near Rabaul in East New Britain Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the following ways:
- Provide HIV-AIDS counselling, testing, treatment, and education.
- Reduce birth-related deaths through education, medical care, and distribution of birthing kits.
- Address key resurgent diseases – malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and leprosy.
- Provide general medical assistance.
- Engage local churches at the clinic locations in a partnership to empower and transform these poor communities by expressing God’s kingdom.
- Facilitate the planting of new kingdom-oriented churches.
In its first eight months of operation the clinic reached deep into rural areas out of reach of normal medical services to test, educate and treat over 4,000 people.
World Bank Partnership – Poor Cocoa Farmers
In March-April 2017 Mustard Seed Global’s mobile clinic commences a partnership with The World Bank to reach out to 7,000 poor rural cocoa farmers in East New Britain. The focus of the partnership is HIV-AIDS and a nutrition program. Mustard Seed Global will also continue to address general medical needs and to relieve poverty via specific community-building projects.
Future Expansion and Challenges
Plans are in place for additional mobile clinics both for East New Britain and also the new areas of Lae and Bougainville. The partnership with the World Bank helps us extend our work to more poor communities, but funds are needed towards 2 additional vehicles ($A47,000 per vehicle) and two additional clinic teams (two trained Nurses, a Driver and Community Officer per team = $A28,000 per annum).
The mobile clinic is treating over 100 patients at every rural day-clinic.
Poor rural people are suffering because they are out of reach of normal medical services, don’t understand HIV-AIDS, and are vulnerable to disease and complications during childbirth.
Why is it Important:
In 2014, UNAIDS labelled PNG’s growing HIV-AIDS public health emergency a pandemic. There are 34,000 cases of HIV-AIDS in PNG, which has well over 90% of the Pacific region’s HIV cases. While the epidemic has not escalated as expected, the disease continues to spread from localised high population hotspots, to rural areas where 85% of the population live. Also, factors that could fuel the rapid spread of the disease remain, including: promiscuous sexual behaviour patterns, a high incidence of sexual assaults on women, inadequate HIV-AIDS education and testing in rural areas, and large-scale mining projects and agricultural enterprises creating trans-migration of the population.
In addition PNG’s maternal mortality rate is worse than that of India, with half of all women giving birth without the assistance of a doctor or midwife. Five women die in childbirth every day in PNG (Save the Children, PNG Department of Health). Infant mortality rates are also amongst the worst in the world, with 5.5% of babies dying before age 2 (UN Development Plan).
Malaria is endemic, and tuberculosis and leprosy are re-emerging. PNG has the worst health status in the Pacific region – worse than Bangladesh and Burma (World Health Organisation). For a nation of around 7 million people, there are only 400 doctors – or one doctor per 17,068 people.
Rural communities suffer the effects of poverty because they are out of reach of development and services. In countries like PNG where the government is unable to properly fund core service areas like health and education, the money can just run out before rural communities get assistance. Battling illiteracy and limited resources and opportunity, these communities live hard lives as they struggle to survive. Some communities have their natural environment destroyed by logging or mining ventures. Without their traditional sources of food and building materials they struggle on the often very small remuneration provided by the government.
The Specific Target Group:
Rural communities in Papua New Guinea in distress and poverty because they are out of reach of normal medical and support services. The target in East New Britain is 7,000 poor rural cocoa farmers. Expansion of our work into other regions will involve identifying specific communities most in need.
For most of us in developed countries health care, a long life, and opportunity for fulfilment and happiness are givens. Spare a thought for the communities we are reaching where this is not true and respond now.