After a 45 minute helicopter ride, the YWAM Medical Ships team of six set foot in the remote village of Omati, located in West Kikori District, Gulf Province.
The village is home to 400 people. Their closest health facility is Kikori Hospital which is a three hour boat ride away before they take a PMV on a four-hour journey to the hospital via road. Due to the remoteness, Omati’s (and surrounding villages) last health patrol was several years ago.
The team, made up of two nurses, two doctors and a Kikori Hospital community health worker, set up a mobile clinic in Omati’s school and provided immunisations, family planning, heath education and outpatient services.
YWAM Medical Ships Senior Clinic Lead, Hannah Peart, said that Omati and surrounding villages were identified as places to visit by Gulf Provincial Health, who have had difficulty accessing the region for some time.
“Our heart is to work collaboratively with provincial health authorities and local health providers, uniting around the common goal of strengthening health service delivery to the rural majority.
“Our patrol to Omati and surrounding villages was our very first helicopter patrol. When we purchased our new medical and training ship, the MV YWAM PNG, over a year ago, incorporating a helicopter into our operations was always a part of the vision as we expanded our reach.
“We are very grateful for Niugini Heliworks who have donated flight hours to help make the dream a reality,” said Hannah.
During the three-day patrol, the team treated 176 patients in two villages. Services delivered included health promotion, 230 immunisations, family planning for 10 women and 28 cases of yaws treated.
“Yaws is a neglected tropical disease that affects the skin, bone and cartilage. Overcrowding and poor hygiene facilitate the spread of the disease. Without treatment, the infection can lead to chronic disfigurement and disability.
“In addition to treating those that were diagnosed with yaws, mass treatment of the disease was provided to all individuals who presented to our clinic in the village of Gibidai. A report on the high number of patients with yaws has also been provided to provincial health authorities,” said Hannah.
Further helicopter patrols to remote areas are planned over the coming months throughout the Southern region and Huon Gulf.
Since February, YWAM Medical Ships have provided treatment to over 11,000 people in 61 villages in Gulf, Western, Central and Milne Bay Provinces.
 World Health Organisation Yaws Fact Sheet