Health call centre a first for PNG
Efforts to provide health services in rural and hard-to-reach areas of Papua New Guinea have received a boost with PNG and Australia launching a health call centre for Western Highlands and Jiwaka provinces.
The health call centre – a first of its kind for PNG - was officially launched by the Secretary of the Department of Health, Mr Pascoe Kase, at a function in Port Moresby on Monday 27 July.
The free-call hotline is available for people in the provinces to phone if they have questions about health issues, need to request an ambulance or medivac, or want to provide feedback on health services.
Another phone number is for the exclusive use of health workers around the province, so that they can get advice during childbirth complications or regarding other medical cases.
The call centre is staffed by nurses 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
The nurses have completed training on first aid, phone manner and how to handle a variety of calls. Local doctors helped to develop scripts to use to address common local medical conditions and cultural practices.
The call centre is a project of the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority. Australia has assisted to establish the call centre and fund its first year of operation.
Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority, Chief Executive Dr. James Kintwa said: “This call centre is an exciting and innovative way to improve access to health services. We are the first government health service to go out publicly with a service like this”.
“The centre will help to hold our health services accountable. People can call up and say if the health worker is not at the health post or is not delivering what they should. They can also call up to get important health information from trained health workers.”
Australian High Commission Counsellor, Health and HIV/AIDS, Ms Christine Sturrock, said: “The Australian Government is very happy to support this innovative initiative that expands access to health information to more remote regions. We wish the nurses – the frontline service deliverers – the best of luck in making this venture a success.”