Rural health students go bush

Divine Word University (DWU) hosted a workshop for stakeholders on placement of its Bachelor of Rural Health students for practical work in rural health facilities in parts of the country recently.

The head of Department of the Rural Health program, Dr Betty Etami Koka, initiated the pre-deployment workshop at the Madang campus to assist health officers in the rural health centres to supervise and assess students in their practical work over 10 weeks.

The Bachelor of Rural Health is a four-year program that produces rural health officers, commonly known as health extension officers (HEOs), who are trained to work in rural health centres where there are no doctors.

A total of 111 students have since gone out for their practical work in the rural health centres in parts of Madang, Morobe and Eastern Highlands provinces.

Dr Koka said the department sent out its third and fourth year students at the same time because the third year students of last year did not have their practical work in the districts due to certain constraints.

Dr Koka, who has a HEO background, said the practical component ensures students have first-hand experience on clinical procedures in the health centres under supervision from the officers in charge and the district health officers.

“The students have been divided into groups of 10 for some health centres and 11 and 12 for others,” she said.

“Ideally, these students are supposed to be accompanied by members of the staff for supervision, however due to lack of manpower the students will be supervised by the qualified officers-in-charge of the health centres who are health extension officers (HEOs) themselves,” Dr Koka said.

Dr Koka said stakeholders especially the Director of Madang Provincial Health, Mr Marcus Kachau and his Morobe counterpart, Mr Micah Yawing plus the district health officers are very supportive of the rural placement program.

The students have been engaged in government health facilities and those run by the Catholic Health Services and the Evangelical Brotherhood Church (EBC) in the three provinces.