A forty year old mother, Oani, had her sight restored in Abau District, Central Province this month thanks to a collaborative eye surgery patrol between YWAM Medical Ships Australia & Papua New Guinea (YWAM MS), Port Moresby and Hagen General Hospitals and the Abau District Development Authority, with the support of PNG’s Prevention of Blindness Committee. Oani’s sight was limited to light and dark shades due to cataracts for the past 10 years, her existence was confined to familiar surroundings as she depended on her family to take care of her everyday needs.
Oani’s now teenage daughter was only five years old when she first lost her sight. After an initial assessment in her village, Darava, it was determined that Oani was a candidate for cataract surgery. Oani was transported to the YWAM Training and Medical Ship, MV YWAM PNG, the following day where she underwent surgery. Oani’s procedure was performed by Mt Hagen General Hospital ophthalmologist and YWAM MS volunteer, Dr Waimbe Wahamu.
“Oani’s surgery was a great success. When she came back to remove her eyepatch the day after her surgery she had a very big smile on her face, she was radiant! I was very encouraged by the teamwork that helped produce a great result. As an ophthalmologist, I am grateful that YWAM has provided a great platform that gives so many people the opportunity to collaborate and to reach these rural areas together. It gives us the opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise, to help our people in rural areas,” said Dr Wahamu.
Dr Wahamu was one of two surgeons who served aboard the MV YWAM PNG over the past two weeks. Port Moresby General Hospital ophthalmologist, Dr Robert Ko, was also mobilised for the patrol by Papua New Guinea’s Chief Ophthalmologist (eye specialist), Dr Simon Melengas. Dr Melengas said that he was pleased to support ongoing surgical outreach patrols across Papua New Guinea.
“It is fantastic to see further progress on our Wasim Ai, Stretim Lukluk programme in the country. Cataract surgical outreach is one of the strategies to reach our reversibly-blind people in rural areas and working together in partnerships like this is a key way forward. I thank YWAM for its ongoing contribution especially in remote areas,” said Dr Melengas.
The outcome of these eye procedures is hoped to make a significant impact for not only patients but their families and communities at large. The eye surgical patrol was part of an integrated mega-patrol conducted with Abau District Health across the Abau coastline. Over two weeks, over 2,400 patients received healthcare and training, including immunisations, maternal health services, dentistry procedures, eye care, health promotion, and tuberculosis and HIV screening. This included 60 people receiving eye surgery. In-service training for local health workers and facility upgrades were also delivered. The YWAM Training and Medical Ship, MV YWAM PNG, is currently docked in Alotau where the team is preparing for their next patrol that will start this weekend to Kiriwina Island and the Alotau North Coast, Milne Bay Province. Puma Energy, PNG’s National Government and Australian Aid continue as key supporters.