Entry point

13 August 2008

so, judging by my inbox, most of you are wondering just what i'm doing here. and now that it's been a while, i think i can answer. with the help of previous reports, i've tried to summarise our program in lae below...

last year an msf team came to png to assess the current situation. we're used to populations dealing with conflict, post-conflict, isolated and vulnerable communities, and we're used to medical needs related to a lack of health care access, neglected diseases, natural disasters, traditional wars... but what we found here was a bit different.

we found out that in png, women and girls were suffering from an extremely high level of gender based violence. there was awareness going on, and a clinic at the hospital in lae doing it's best to support, but despite all of this, appropriate medical and psycho-social care for survivors was almost completely absent. our target population was spread out across households, and our neglected medical conditions were those caused by sexual and domestic violence.

the need was there, so in december last year we started providing services from the clinic at the hospital in lae (the second biggest city in PNG). and that's where i am now. the msf clinic is focused on medical and pyscho social care for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. there are now 5 counsellors, 4 medical, plus international and support staff.

the physical location of the centre has moved from the original space (we needed more room :), and when we built it, they came. it has grown from 1 medical/counseling/admin room to 4 counselling rooms, 2 medical rooms, 1 triage and an office. in june, before i arrived, we had already reached our 1000th case. by august we were at ~1300 new cases. sexual violence cases represent about 300, with the other 1000 split between physical and non-physical domestic violence.

it's been a busy 9 months for the msf team. we did some work with the emergency department, and also supported their triage system. as well, our medical team has provided training to the emergency department staff and awareness to health care workers across the city. our outreach staff have been to settlements, schools, churches and markets to talk about gender based violence, and how survivors of rape deserve treatment, and that treatment is most effective in the first three days.

nearly the best things about this project is that there is major support for this initiative and at a national level we are working with government and ngo's to help establish the national guidelines for treatment of sexual violence. there is a real desire to provide services and as we learn the nuances of providing medical care in this context, we hope to support a model of care that can be used by the other centres across the country that should be started soon. we have an incredibly dedicated team at the clinic, and support from a lot of really cool people.

for more offical like talk about our programs in png, you can check out the activity report on msf.org which is linked here. otherwise... that is my attempt to summarise really quickly!