Department of Health Extension (Rural Health)

To enhance a Healthy lifestyle for the rural communities in line with the overarching university core values founded in Christian principles through excellence in teaching and learning, research and community engagement.

The development of human resource for health in all facets of health care through capacity building in rural and remote communities - an avenue for the enhancement of the intellect and the will for the cherishment of personal health through attitude and behaviour change. The outcome of which will impact on improvement of the health and wellbeing of rural majority population of PNG.

Is there a need for a Rural Health Program in Papua New Guinea?
The PNG Constitution expressed a desire for the nation to witness improvement in the level of nutrition and the standard of public health to enable our people to attain self-fulfillment.

To realize this vision of a new healthy and happy nation, the National Department of Health (NDoH) demonstrated their commitment to “strengthen Primary Health care for all and improve service delivery for the rural majority” through formulating The National Health Plan 2011-2020. Strengthening primary health care is one of the pillars in efforts to reverse this country’s deteriorating health indicators.

Papua New Guinea’s health status ranks among the worst in the Pacific. Malaria and Tuberculosis (TB) continue to take lives at an alarming rate. The addition of HIV/AIDS and cholera is bound to have a drastic effect on the rural populations where there is inadequate availability and access to basic health services. Women and children, especially, in rural areas, are dying from preventable and curable diseases. According to WHO in 2009, neonatal mortality rate per 1000 live births were 26 in PNG, 12 in Samoa, 9 in Fiji and 3 in Australia. Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births) was 250 in PNG while only 21 in Fiji. There is basically lack of and not enough well trained health professionals in rural PNG.

The Health Extension Officers have been the front liners and back bone of the health care delivery system in PNG. They provide health care services at the district hospitals and rural health Centres, performing clinical management of patients, coordinating and performing public health duties to promote disease prevention and they administer and manage the named facilities with the support of a senior nursing officer and other nursing and community health staff.

Program Overview

Program overview
The HEO program is the only program offered at the university that is unique and home grown to meet the needs of rural PNG. The HEO training dates back to 1960 at the Papuan Medical College in Port Moresby, later in 1967 transferred to Paramedical College in Madang also known as College of Allied Health Science under the National Department of Health as a Diploma program. In 2002 was amalgamated to Divine Word University (DWU) and offered as Bachelor of Health Sciences. DWU will continue to train HEOs (Bachelor of Health Science in Rural Health) with wider consultation with local and international stakeholders and partners in order to address and meet the health care needs of rural PNG. The program is also in line with The National Health Plan 2011-2020 and Vision 2050 with Specific emphasis on strengthening of Primary Health Care and addressing the determinants of health.

Program Structure

Program Structure
The program comprises the teaching of theory on campus and integrates clinical and research skills both in a hospital and a rural health facility. It is designed as such, to meet national objectives as outlined in the vision 2050 and the National Health Plan. The program has specific streams that form the framework of the degree, including, Basic Medical Science, Spiritual, Moral and Ethical values, Research and Surveillance of Diseases, Clinical Skills, Public Health and Management. The first year is all theory-oriented with introduction to basic nursing skills. In the second year, theory subjects are continued and students are given an introduction to clinical examination in the second semester. The third year has a more rural and public health management skills focus curriculum and more exposure to rural health practice. The final year (fourth year) is dedicated to fulltime clinical practise at the Modilon General Hospital.

Aims and Objectives

Aims and Objectives

In response to the changing health needs especially of the rural areas, the following are the main aims and objectives of the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Rural Health) program:

  1. 1 .To produce competent health workers with confidence founded on a balanced attitude, knowledge and skills to enter the health care field.
  2. 2. To provide a comprehensive approach to health care in the preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care.
  3. 3. To promote communication skills through teamwork, esteem professional values and competency in clinical practice.
  4. 4. To provide continuous learning, creativity and skills necessary for problem solving in environments with limited resources.
  5. 5. To develop knowledge that help establish bridges between clinical care at the rural, community approaches to the determinants of health and critics and the stabilization and referrals protocols.
  6. 6. To develop knowledge and skills in rural health facility management
  7. 7. To promote self-respect, integrity, reliability, accountability, and tolerance amongst the rural health professionals.
  8. 8. To enhance the students understanding of the social, legal and ethical issues that may impact on areas of health care including public health
  9. 9. To enhance students’ understanding of diverse population in health care and to prepare them to take a leadership role in the health care environment.


Credit Points

Credit Points
Credit points are assigned to each unit in a program to denote the workload involved. In order to gain the award of Bachelor of Health Sciences (Rural Health), students must achieve a set number of points to qualify for the award.

They must
• Achieve at least 280 out of the 328 available credit points; and
• Pass all mandatory units.

 Contact Details

The Executive Officer to the Dean of FMHS
Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
Phone: (+675) 422 2937 Ext: 770
Fax: (+675) 422 2812
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The Registrar
Phone: (+675) 422 2937 Ext: 704
Fax: (+675) 422 2812
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