Papau New Guinea: Post-war assistance in Bougainville

International staff : 7

Over 10 years of war, health posts, clinics and hospitals on the island deteriorated and are in need of extensive rehabilitation. In 1998, MSF launched a health care programme out of the Buin health centre, in the Telei district. The main objective is to provide health care to the district which is inhabited by 70,000 people. This health centre is in the throes of being upgraded to a referral hospital. MSF teams have already helped the local health authorities rehabilitate the health centre.

The main disease treated is malaria which is also endemic in this region. MSF also provides support to the health centre, runs a referral service and trains health care workers. MSF also tops up the government supplies of medicine to health structures in Bougainville. MSF is helping the health authorities identify more effective ways of ensuring medical supply in the long-term.

MSF intervened in the main island of Papua New Guinea during the second part of 1998 following the devastating tsunami (tidal wave) of 17th July. This natural disaster resulted in the deaths of 2.200 people, the displacement of 10,000 and the total destruction of Aitape village and the area around Sissano on the northern coast. The displaced regrouped in eight different sites. MSF assisted with the set up of temporary dispensaries.

The team also vaccinated against disease and provided water and sanitation assistance. This included the construction of wells and water tanks. MSF managed all medical donations, took responsibility for the cold chain and carried out epidemiological follow up. Only 2,000 of the displaced have been resettled so far.