Health care and training

Mother with baby in string bagMedical service remains a huge need throughout the island of Papua and opportunities to serve in this area abound. In a climate of rapid development and opportunities to travel from local areas, the spread of disease is hastened and diseases previously unknown in some areas are now rampant. Traditional constraints that once held social behaviors in check are now weakened and most young people are ill-prepared for today’s modern social pressures. Health systems are in great need of continuing development.

The vast geographical variations where people live make for high variations in the diseases experienced. Traditional ways of dealing with disease vary enormously, as does people's availability to modern medical care introduced by Missions, Government and NGO's. In an holistic worldview as is encountered in Papua, body, soul and spirit are interconnected and need to be considered in any approach to medical care. People's understanding of the cause of disease can differ greatly and always needs to be explored, it can vary from being convinced that dirty water causes malaria to believing that most diseases are the result of a curse or personal sin.

Promiscuous behavior in conjunction with poor education is leading to alarming reports of the spread of HIV/AIDS. In some areas surveyed, it is estimated that 3-4% of the population are infected with the virus.

Medical consultationDeath rates are high and treatment with Antiretroviral drugs is still in the very early stages with only limited numbers receiving the treatment. Many groups are working hard to improve the situation and this opens a huge area of opportunity to serve with the Church and with medical services in education, treatment, and counselling.

In addition to HIV/AIDS, other deadly diseases that can be prevented and treated but which are endemic in Papua include malaria, tuberculosis, bronchitis, skin diseases and pneumonia. There has also been a rise in previously unknown diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and intestinal complaints due to poor, highly processed diets which are cheaply obtained in towns. Poor immunization also sees periodic outbreaks of childhood diseases such as measles.

World Team works together with the Church, the government and NGO's to provide medical support, training for health workers, and education about health issues. Mission aviation provides medical evacuations from remote villages to hospitals in the towns. These crucial ministries in the area of health save lives and provide people with a direct example of God's love.

Providing medical aid