Locally based medical and training ship, MV YWAM PNG, will sail from Townsville to Port Moresby in November.
The vessel, which has helped to provide over 2 million services in Papua New Guinea, has been in Australian waters for 12 months, undergoing maintenance and being put up for sale with the intention to replace it with multiple, smaller vessels to provide even more support alongside the PNG health system.
YWAM Medical Ships Managing Director, Ken Mulligan, said that the Port of Townsville has been a tremendous support through the years. “Townsville has been an amazing home port for this vessel through many years; providing wharfage for the ship over the past four months has allowed our crew – who worked on the ship relentlessly through the COVID period when people or the vessel were not able to come and go as frequently – to have a much needed reprieve.”
Mr Mulligan said, “Our vessel currently remains on the market to be sold, but as we’ve considered where to relocate the ship for the cyclone season, we cannot think of a more appropriate place than Papua New Guinea as we continue discussions regarding outreach.”
The ship has had long standing support from PNG leaders, including this statement of endorsement from Prime Minister James Marape in 2021: “Through our long history and friendship, [YWAM’s] proven track record, and the sacrifice of so many volunteers, we have together achieved so much. The respectful collaboration alongside national, provincial, and district level government to deliver critical training, healthcare, and capacity building programs is commended, and you can be assured of my full support.”
While the ship has been berthed in Australia, the YWAM MS team has remained heavily engaged in PNG. Patrol teams have continued to work alongside local health workers in remote Western Province to deliver lifesaving maternal and child health care.
“Just two weeks ago, our team was in a village without a health centre, and they came across a premature baby boy who was very unwell, weighing just over a kilogram, and unable to feed or regulate his body temperature,” says Mr Mulligan. “I have just received a report that this baby is slowly improving, and has been transported to the nearest health facility for ongoing care.”
Additionally, YWAM MS has engaged with the Central Provincial Health Authority with a focus on adolescent health, and continued to operate the School Dental Program, providing 1,604 dental treatments to Port Moresby youth in collaboration with the National Capital District Commission (NCDC), NCD Provincial Health Authority, and NCD Department of Education.
“Our desire has always been to help strengthen and support the current health system in PNG,” said YWAM MS Managing Director, Ken Mulligan. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with PNG to empower healthy lives for a healthy Papua New Guinea.”