Combat Medic, Private James Windi, attending to a patient.
To serve and to protect is a call of duty by the military, which includes humanitarian aid to civilians in need. The Papua New Guinea Defence Force in partnership with Middle Fly Women and Children’s Association (MFWCA) provided free dental care and general medical health checks to the Middle Fly Communities on 29 January this year. The MFWCA requested security presence for a trip downriver and provided fuel to the soldiers for the trip. A platoon of PNGDF soldiers while doing their routine border patrol along the PNG/Indonesian Border, provided the women executive’s security support. While downriver an association executive fell ill and was unable to get treatment at the local aid post due to a shortage of medical drugs. The soldiers stepped in and provided medical assistance to the executive, and extended their service to villagers in the Middle Fly District of Western Province. According to Raymond Walo, Public Officer for the association, a total of 67 patients were seen and administered some form of medication. “It was a good example of partnership between the PNGDF and the women association and was greatly appreciated by the local people,” Mr. Walo said. Executives of the association also took the opportunity to receive dental checks. Lieutenant Nazi Francis, second in charge of the PNGDF platoon deployed to Western Province Forward Operational Base, said their medical service was limited by the medicine stock intended for their use while on patrol, but seeing the need, they used the medicines on hand to treat the villagers.
Prevalent diseases in the Western Province
Middle Fly Women & Children Association executive receives medical assistance from PNGDF Medic.
Combat Medic Private James Windi from the PNGDF treated villagers experiencing arthritis (35), toothache (7), and malaria (25). “These three diseases were common in the community but arthritis was widely experienced among females due to regular and irregular tasks they did every day”. The soldiers provided medical support at Kaviananga village CRC church grounds. Supporting the Middle Fly Women and Children’s Association, the team treated patients from Kaviananga and neighbouring villages. Association president Charlotte Mathews was frank in her praise of the PNGDF soldiers and stated that their presence was a blessing for the local community and hoped that they could do community visits more often.