The Bachelor of Health Sciences (Rural Health) program trains Health Extension Officers (HEOs) to serve the needs of the rural population (health centres) in Papua New Guinea. They provide basic health care for 87% of PNG’s population living in rural areas of PNG. HEOs are trained to be prepared to work in disadvantages areas, with limited resources, to provide quality health services, particularly aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality rates. Health Extension profession on the other hand also, owes its existence or survival to the PNG rural communities’ health needs and demands. The program aims to produce competent HEOs imbued with Christian principles and ethical values to be leaders of health teams in rural and remote parts of PNG.
The Bachelor of Health Sciences (Rural Health) program aims to prepare graduates who:
- display the right attitudes (compassion, caring, honesty, attentive, assertive, empathic and kindhearted), knowledge and skills in the delivery of quality health services.
- practice competently, confidently and are able to work within limited resources providing care for the disadvantaged in the rural areas
- can perform clinical duties caring for patients as fellow human beings, are committed, passionate about their work, and maintain professional ethics at all times
- are committed for Public Health activities to promote health and wellbeing and offer effective means and ways to prevent diseases
- practice excellent management and administrative skills in the rural health facilities.
- are committed to improve health service delivery in PNG
- are committed to lifelong learning.
- maintain professionalism at all times, being respectful, honest and trustworthy
In addition, as a program of Divine Word University, the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Rural Health) program is informed by the University’s strategic objectives, core values and graduate attributes.
The seven strategic objectives of the DWU Strategic Master Plan 2016-2026 (DWU, 2017), are to:
- provide all students with transformative educational experiences that achieve DWU’s graduate attributes and are consistent with its core values
- increase innovation in teaching and learning to deliver pedagogically sound and efficient programs
- intensify research and knowledge exchange
- increase productive partnerships
- enhance staff capabilities
- optimise organisational effectiveness
- enable financial sustainability.
Core values of DWU are: integrity, academic excellence, community engagement, respect, diversity, hospitality, learning for life and social responsibility. These values are embraced by staff and embedded in all programs. In an era of increasing access to electronic information, special attention is given to integrity and educating people to avoid plagiarism.
Graduate attributes of scholarship and social awareness are embedded in the EdD program covering professional knowledge, analysis and problem solving, research, information technology, personal development, communication, social responsibility and social interaction. Graduates are guided by the HEO professional Code of Ethics, approved by the PNG Medical Board. Further, a HEO graduate will be able to perform in the four core areas of their roles and responsibilities, as summarized below and described in full in Appendix One. These four roles for HEOs are:
- Health Extension Officer as a clinical practitioner
- Health Extension Officer as administrator and manager
- Health Extension Officer as a public health coordinator/advocator
- Health Extension Officer as a scientist and scholar
The program is needed because it equips students with a firm knowledge of common tropical diseases in Papua New Guinea (PNG). It also identifies public health challenges and implications by providing knowledge, and skills to address these needs, especially in situations where resources are limited. It also provides opportunities and aptitude for professional communication, scientific bases of health care, ethical values and professional issues associated with the PNG health care system.
The program is aligned with the National Health Plan 2011-2020 and Vision 2050 with specific emphasis on strengthening primary healthcare in rural and remote areas. The program addresses the critical shortages of a trained health workforce, by ensuring that Health Extension Officers (HEOs) provide essential clinical care. The role of the HEO has and continues to evolve. DWU will maintain a strong engagement with the National Department of Health and other external bodies in efforts to provide a balanced and integrated health workforce for the nation and be responsive to PNG’s diverse population. The establishment of DWU’s MBBS program, with its emphasis on training rural doctors, means that there is now a potential pathway for those with HEO qualifications and experience to further develop their clinical knowledge and skills.
Rural Health Program
It is unique program in the world and country where the emphasis is placed in the delivery of quality health care in the rural areas. From the beginning of the training, students are encouraged to maintain and uphold discipline. Any student who fails to abide by the rules and regulations of the university, will never be admitted into the program because this program requires officers who must be well disciplined, be responsible and work confidently and honestly in all activities.
HEALTH SCIENCE FOUNDATION YEAR (HSF = 1ST year of MBBS, RS & HE
Common units’ regulation for HSF year:
Attendance on lectures, tutorials and seminars is obligatory, unjustified absence in more than two days leads to the unit failure. The decision about the student who was absent for more than 2 days with certified by a medical officer sick leave will be made on individual bases by the head of department in cooperation with the unit coordinator. The excuses for failing to attend the mandatory activities (lectures, tutorials, seminars, exercises) must be presented to the clinical coordinator no later than 7 days from the beginning of the day of absence. Passing total score for the unit is 60%. A student who achieved less than 60% of total mark fails the unit and has to repeat the unit.