Bachelor of Health Sciences (Rural Health)

The Bachelor of Health Sciences (Rural Health) program focuses upon the preparation of Health Extension Officers for District Health Centres in the rural areas. These Health Extension Officers are responsible for patient care in the rural areas, the daily administration of the rural health centre, and the coordination of community health services.

In addition to the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Rural Health, the department offers an Advanced Diploma in Emergency Medicine program in flexible learning mode through the Flexible Learning Centre.

paramedical college Rurual Practical EHP Year 1 Students on Practical
 Paramedical College, Madang  Rural Practical Sigere Health Centre, EHP  Year 1 students on Practical, Madang

Duration of Study

The Health Extension bachelor program requires four-years of full-time study leading to the award of the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Rural Health. During the program there will be extended periods of placements in hospitals and health centres for practical application of learning.

Study Mode and Location

Full time on Campus, Divine Word University, Madang

Requisites to complete the award

Achievement of 320 credit points or 40 credit points each semester.

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to have a minimum ‘B’ grade in all science subjects including Chemistry, Biology and Physics, and a ‘B’ grade in English and Mathematics in their year 12 results.

Award Requirement

Students must achieve a minimum of 320 credit points, have satisfied 75% of the requirements of the logbook, satisfied requirements for rural block and urban clinical placements, submitted a report of their research project, and have paid all fees to be eligible to graduate with the Bachelor of Health Science (Rural Health) award.

Bridging Program

The bridging program for upgrading Diploma in Applied Health Sciences to Bachelor of Health Sciences Degree commenced in 2015. HEOs who have achieved Diploma in Applied Health Sciences can now upgrade to Bachelor of Health Sciences degree through the Flexible Learning Mode, I year full time or 2 years part time. More information on the bridging program can be accessed through flexible learning (click here)


Units Offered

Year One

HE121 Introduction to Human Biology

HE126 Principles of Medical Biochemistry

HM101 Health Care Systems

IS117 End-User Computing and Word Processing

RS234 Christian Ethics

HE122 Microbiology

HE125 Human Anatomy

HE127 Human Physiology

HE403 Professional Ethics and Communication

HM103 Society, Culture & Health

Year Two

HE213 Medical Pharmacology

HE223 Introduction to Clinical Examination

HE215 Infectious Diseases and Lifestyle Diseases

HE216 Administration and Principle of Management

HE224 Biostatistics and Research Methods

HE218 Pediatrics I

HE219 Medicine I

HE220 Obstetrics & Gynecology I

HE221 Surgery I and Anesthetics

HE222 Accident and Emergency I

Year Three (7 weeks clinical rotations throughout the year)

HE307 Clinical Accidents & Emergency

HE308 Clinical Pediatrics

HE309 Clinical Medicine

HE310 Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology

HE311 Clinical Surgery

Year Four

HE317 Rural Clinical Placement

HE318 Community Health Practice

HE320 Family Health Service

HE406 Clinical Log Book Assessment

HE401 Epidemiology 2

Program Unit Descriptions

HE 121

HE 121 Introduction to Human Biology - 8 Credit Points

In this unit, students gain knowledge of human biology. Students examine the cell structure and function as the basis of life; the cell membrane and its function as a basis of cell integrity; how cells form into organized and specialized tissues and/or organs; cell division involving meiosis and mitosis and the mechanisms controlling cell divisions; body cavities and their importance; body fluids including body water and different cellular compartments; body metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fats that provide energy to cell functions while noting the basis of disorders such as diabetes mellitus; and homeostasis; and knowledge of vital signs of what is normal and what is abnormal.

HE 126

HE 126 Principles of Medical Biochemistry - 8 Credit Points

Biochemistry is the study of life chemistry and, in this unit, the topic is studied as it applies to medical practice. Students explore basic principles of biochemistry relevant to medicine and the practice of medicine in Papua New Guinea. Topics include the principles of molecular structure and function, cell and tissue structure, genetic information (DNA/RNA etc.), signaling and signaling pathways and glucose/lipid metabolism.

HM 101

HM 101 Health Care Systems - 8 Credit Points

This unit provides an overview of organizational arrangements for provision and financing of healthcare services in PNG. The focus is on major issues in the organization of the PNG health services system: role of values; assessment of health status; analysis of need, access and use of services; current supply and distribution of health resources; private and public financing of health services; government regulation; and system reform. The unit also compares and contrasts the PNG health system with health systems generally.

IS 117

IS 117 End - User Computing and Word Processing - 8 Credit Points

This unit provides an introduction to the PC including its structure and place in the home or small office environment. It seeks to develop basic computer literacy and typing skills. Included is an understanding and facility with the use of a graphical user interface. Students are also provided with skills to use an Office suite of software, email, Internet and an intranet. Word Processing is an essential skill in the home and the small office and for student assignment writing. Students are given a comprehensive introduction to the basics of text formatting using word processing software.

RS 234

RS 234 Christian Ethics - 8 Credit Points

Ethics is a systematic, critical study concerned with the evaluation of human conduct to help male decisions about the future. It is concerned about what is right, fair, just or good; about what we ought to do, not just what is the case or what is most acceptable or expedient. Christian ethics is the critical evaluation of human conduct from a Christian perspective. In this course, students will explore the understanding, sources and importance of ethics in everybody’s personal and professional life.

HE 122

HE 122 Microbiology- 8 Credit Points

Microbiology is the study of the biology of the microbes (micro-organisms) and the disease aspects these microbes cause in humans. Microbiology covers micro-organisms which include: bacteria, protozoa, fungi and viruses. Students examine various microbes and their effects on the human body. They describe and classify various pathogenic (disease causing organisms) micro-organisms into groups and the diseases they cause. Students explore diagnostic microbiology where they identify and differentiate various groups of micro-organisms from harmless to harmful ones. With the aid of microscopes, students are able to explore and identify the existence of pathogenic micro-organisms.

HE 125

HE 125 Human Anatomy - 8 Credit  Points

In this unit the students explores the anatomical structure of the human body. Body structure will be studied by organ systems and will involve a balance between gross anatomical study and histology. Teaching is through lectures, tutorials, experiments and practical exercises. Assessment is based on written tests.

HE 127

HE 127 Human Physiology - 8 Credit Points

The aim of the unit is to provide the student with knowledge of function of human body in each of the different systems of body, primarily focusing at the level of organs and systems. In this unit the students explore the body as a collection of interacting systems, each with its own combination of functions and purposes to an extent that they are able to clearly distinguish the normal function of human body from a diseased state of human body.

HE 403

HE 403 Professional Health Ethics and Communication - 8 Credit Points

Many clinical choices in patient management are essentially ethical. Patients are also increasingly becoming aware of what they believe to be their human rights. Health professionals have an ethical clinical responsibility to: (i) protect life and health, (ii) respect patient autonomy and (iii) administer health care with fairness and justice. In this unit students are exposed to what these mean in clinical and practical contexts. The students are exposed to local and international professional regulations covering codes of practice, and consequences of failing to uphold the three principles.

HM 103

HM 103 Society, Culture and Health - 8 Credit Points

This unit explores how cultural beliefs, customs and practices relate to health issues, and implications for health management practices. It provides students with ethnographic information to adapt health protocols to a PNG setting. Students examine the sociocultural context of disease, its identification, treatment and experience, and the way in which communities respond to illnesses in their midst. They investigate the commonly held but contradictory assumptions about biology, epidemiology, causation and gender roles and the way in which these contradictions often result in the obstruction of both local and introduced strategies.

HE 213

HE 213 Medical Pharmacology - 8 Credit Points

This unit focuses on developing student’s knowledge and understanding of medical pharmacology which is the science of chemicals in the form of drugs that interact with human body. Drugs are important and integral part of health care and health delivery. Students study the pharmacokinetic / pharmacodynamic processes, drugs therapeutic usage in diseases, adverse drug reactions, social and economical implication of drug use, and the Papua New Guinea’s current drug policy. Students investigate pharmacological practices or drugs uses that are relevant to Papua New Guinea.

HE 223

HE 223 Introduction to Clinical Examination - 8 Credit Points

The art of clinical examination which embraces the skills of history taking and physical examination is crucial to the clinical practice. In clinical practice most of the diagnosis can be made based by drawing conclusions from the adequate clinical examination. The competency of clinical examination is vital in the rural setting due low technical and diagnostic support. The primary aim of this unit is to equip students with the correct techniques in history taking and physical examination, refine skills to prioritize and summarize the findings. The secondary aim is to develop a proper attitude and behavior during students interaction with the patient and families. Introduction to clinical examination is an indispensable prerequisite to clinical units.

HE 215

HE 215 Infectious Diseases and Lifestyle Diseases - 8 Credit Points

This unit enables students to understand the different types of illnesses categorized as communicable (infectious diseases) and non-communicable disease (lifestyle diseases). They explore the causes and diagnosis of these health problems and the methods currently used to deal with categories of illnesses in the population. Most importantly they obtain knowledge of the changing pattern of diseases in our country today and how to prevent these diseases which are on the increase and influenced by changing life styles.

HE 216

HE 216 Administration and Principles of Management - 8 Credit Points

In this unit students examine the principles of administration and management within the context of rural health services delivery. They analyze the branches and activities of governments and construct distinctive features of the organizational structures of various levels of governments in PNG through which health services are delivered. Students examine the method of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation used by levels of governments and the supervisory role of the health centres in the rural areas of PNG. They are encouraged to reflect on the complimentary role of clinicians, public health specialists and management responsibilities of health centres.

HE 224

HE 224 Biostatistics and Research Methods - 8 Credit Points

The purpose of statistical methods is to put numerical data into a context by which their meaning can be better judged. Statistical sciences deal with transforming words data to numerical data, which give a clearer view of data’s significance. The students will study this unit through a series of lectures on the different statistical methods used to transform data. The students will learn specific but simple methods such as data tabulation, data presentation, summarizing of data into means and standard deviations; how to obtain and calculate data distribution, data means and standard deviation. Students will also learn significant testing using  student ‘t ‘ test,. The ultimate aim of this unit is for students to develop a rational basis for presenting data and upon graduation, health professionals can apply this basic knowledge for data collection and analysis.


HE 218 Paediatrics 1 - 8 Credit Points

Students are introduced to the normal and abnormal processes of growth and development - from birth to early adolescence. This unit focuses on problems associated with the process of human growth and development, and the etiology, pathology and clinical manifestation of diseases in children. Students study various aspects of growth and development; current national and global status of children’s health particularly infant morbidity and mortality; common causes of deaths in children in PNG and globally; factors contributing to high infant mortality rates; and the interventions that are required to reduce mortality among the children.

HE 219

HE 219 Medicine 1 - 8 Credit Points

In this unit students learn about medical problems of adults in PNG and abroad. They discuss basic techniques in history taking, examination, diagnosis and treatment of patients. Students systemically examine the pathology of common medical problems in PNG such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and other life style diseases of an immerging affluent society of PNG; and explore the processes of diseases observable either with naked eyes or by microscopy as inferred from biochemical tests.

HE 220

HE 220 Obstetrics adn Gynecology 1 - 8 Credit Points

In this unit, students explore the physiological process of conception and describe changes that occur during different stages of pregnancy, labour, child birth and the post natal period. Students study female reproductive organs, the structure of the female pelvis, the physiology of normal pregnancy, the rationale for prenatal care, intra partum care, postpartum care, pregnancy and co-existing diseases such as HIV infections. They analyse the four pillars of safe motherhood, namely; antenatal care, family planning, supervised delivery; and reflect on normal and abnormal situations relative to reproductive health in PNG.

HE 221

HE 221 Surgery 1 and Anaesthesia 1 - 8 Credit Points

Surgery is the branch of medicine that deals with diseases and conditions treated by operation or manipulation. In this unit, students explore the fundamentals of surgery and the management of common surgical problems in PNG. They discuss the diagnosis of common surgical problems in PNG and apply critical thinking in assessing the condition of a patient especially when formulating the management plan.

HE 222

HE 222 Accident and Emergency 1 - 8 Credit Points

This unit in the rural PNG context is designed to equip future Health Extension Officers with the knowledge and skills in the triaging and fundamental basics of managing in a competent manner those that are critically ill and injured. The emphasis is on the techniques in the execution of life saving management protocols in a rural facility where desirable equipment and expertise are minimal or not available.

HE 307

HE 307 Clinical Accident and Emergency - 16 Credit  Points

Students cover this unit by doing seven weeks of fulltime clinical practical (working hours, after hours and weekends) doing clinical observations and supervised practical experiences in the accidents and emergency section of Modilon Hospital. The rotation is supplemented with tutorials and lectures. The unit is delivered in the Rural PNG context; designed to equip Health Extension students the knowledge and skills in the triaging and the basics in managing patients with specific emphasis on the stabilization and referral of the critically ill and injured.

HE 308

HE 308 Clinical Pediatrics - 16 Credit Points

Students cover this unit by doing seven weeks of fulltime clinical practical (working hours, after hours and weekends) doing clinical observations and supervised practical experiences in the accidents and emergency section of Modilon Hospital. The rotation is supplemented with tutorials and lectures. The unit is delivered in the Rural PNG context; designed to equip Health Extension students the knowledge and skills in the triaging and the basics in managing patients. In this discipline student are rotated to the children out patients and the neonatal ward in order to get a exposure to the sort of work load faced and the challenges of running MCH clinics.

HE 309

HE 309 Clinical Medicine - 16 Credit Points

Students cover this unit by doing seven weeks of fulltime clinical practical (working hours, after hours and weekends) doing clinical observations and supervised practical experiences in the accidents and emergency section of Modilon Hospital. The rotation is supplemented with tutorials and lectures. The unit is delivered in the Rural PNG context; designed to equip Health Extension students the knowledge and skills in the triaging and the basics in managing patients. The changing pattern of disease is very much seen at the Medical Ward. This is when student appreciate the management of important infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis and HIV as well as the lifestyle disease in particular diabetes which is becoming very common.

HE 310

HE 310 Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology - 16 Credit Points

Students cover this unit by doing seven weeks of fulltime clinical practical (working hours, after hours and weekends) clinical observations and supervised practical experiences in the accidents and emergency section of Modilon Hospital. This is supplemented with tutorial and lecturers. The unit deals with all aspects of Obstetrics which ensures that a healthy mother delivers a healthy baby without complications and problems. It ensures that the reproductive health of women of all ages is maintained. In this unit the students are exposed to the theoretical and the practical component of learning about diseases and problems related to the reproductive system at any stage of their reproductive ages.

HE 311

HE 311 Clinical Surgery - 16 Credit Points

Students cover this unit by doing seven weeks of fulltime clinical practical (working hours, after hours and weekends) doing clinical observations and supervised practical experiences in the accidents and emergency section of Modilon Hospital. The rotation is supplemented with tutorials and lectures. The unit is delivered in the Rural PNG context; designed to equip Health Extension students the knowledge and skills in the triaging and the basics in managing patients with specific emphasis on the stabilization and referral of the critically ill and injured. During the rotation the students are also exposed to important orthopedic conditions and are given limited exposure to surgical procedures.

HE 319

HE 319 Environmental Sanitation - 10 Credit Points

This unit introduces the student to the impact the environment has on the life style of communities. It places an emphasis on environmental health promotion and its application within rural communities. This unit deals with systematic process, designed to identify, analyze and evaluate the environmental effects of community activities on the health of a community. Students explore competencies needed to ensure that project activities safeguard, promote and do not risk the health and safety of communities.

HM 406

HM 406 Health Service Management - 10 Credit Points

This unit explores the efficient and sustained utilization of the human, physical, material and fiscal resources of health service delivery in line with the identified needs of the population. Students consider skills to effectively implement health activities through the use of strategic management plans for health services; use quality management tools to assist the implementation of health activities; improve health service delivery by using information from health services; and undertake a process evaluation. Implementation activities include organizing resources, leadership for action, and controlling the implementation process.

HE 407

HE 407 PNG Rural Health Project Management - 10 Credit Points

Students undertaking this unit gain knowledge and skills to manage a rural health project in Papua New Guinea. This involves project planning, designing, monitoring and evaluating. Students are able to explain the nature of a project as a sequence of unique, complex and connected activities that have one goal or purpose and that must be completed by a specific time, within budget, and according to specification. Concepts to be considered and applied to health projects include: leadership, management, change, projects, vision, communication, team building, motivation, influencing, problem solving, decision making, cultural awareness, control, negotiation, managing meetings, ethics and social awareness. Students discuss health projects that have created a unique product, service or result and the social, economic, technological, aesthetic or environmental change that resulted. They explore case studies of projects and identify factors contributing to success or failure.

HE 408

HE 408 Research Project - 10 Credit Points

During lectures on campus in their final semester, students prepare a proposal for a research project that they will undertake during the following ten weeks of practical experience in rural clinical settings. Students identify an issue to explore, construct questions to underpin the study, review literature related to their chosen topic, describe the context in which the project will be implemented, select a sample of participants, develop a data gathering instrument, identify ethical considerations  and gain approval from their lecturer to implement their proposed research study. They then proceed to their field placements in urban and rural health centres, gather data, record and display results, analyze and interpret the findings and prepare a report.

HE 317

HE 317 Rural Clinical Placement - 8 Credit Points

Students are placed in health facilities where, under supervision, they conduct history taking, examine, diagnose, treat and manage patients competently and skillfully. They are also actively involved in these health facilities to ensure that proper clinical care is provided which includes participation in preventive and promotive health programs and referral of patients to appropriate higher level facilities in provincial hospitals if they require specialized treatment.

HE 318

HE 318 Community Health Practice - 8 Credit Points

In this unit students study the way communities live in their villages and the various cultural, environmental, economic, social, physical and political factors that impact upon community life style. They analyze and synthesize the conceptual basis of health extension work applicable to health extension professionals. Students are taught how to conduct community diagnoses and make inquiries into health needs applicable to community health practices. Using a systems approach, students apply principles of planning, management and evaluation in developing viable community health plans in collaboration with community, government and non-government organizations and with policy makers.

HE 320

HE 320 Family Health Service - 8 Credit Points

In this unit students explore preventive health interventions to address the health needs of mothers and children. Most childhood and maternal health conditions are preventable and treatable using available best practices and low cost technologies. They explore the effect of the local cultural and economic practices on the wellbeing of mothers and children and the community at large; and discuss the provision of health information on such issues as good nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, through primary health care services and deliberate on reproductive health, and provision of quality neonatal care and safe motherhood.

HE 406

HE 406 Clinical Log Book Assessment - 8 Credit Points

Each student is expected to fill in a logbook for all clinical and on-call attendances. To graduate a student needs to have undertaken a certain number of the procedures prescribed in his/her logbook. This unit provides students with practical field experiences required by continuing clinical rotation in major disciplines of internal medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology and surgery. The student will be rostered for clinical duties and on-calls.

HE 401

HE 401 Epidemiology 2 - 8 Credit Points

This unit covers some basic concepts in probability and statistics used in epidemiology and demonstrates their fundamental importance in public health practice in the identification, control and prevention of illness in the community. The students demonstrate their understanding of the epidemiology of common PNG infectious diseases and epidemiology of major chronic diseases in PNG. (HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria).