Contextual Background

The current HIV situation in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has recently been considered as a ‘mixed’ epidemic, because although its prevalence is significantly higher in key populations, it still affects large population groups that cannot be easily classified into these populations. The most recent projections estimated the national prevalence at 0.89%, with an estimated 47,795 people living with HIV in 2017.1 HIV prevalence within the country continues to vary geographically, with the Highlands Region and the National Capital District displaying the highest percentages, 1.10% and 1.64% respectively.

General elections were held in PNG from 24 June to 8 July 2017 leading to a considerable amount of unrest and violence throughout the country.

The most up-to-date information provided by the Catholic Church Health Services of PNG (CCHS) shows that in 2016 they recorded 1,307 new HIV registrations across all clinic sites. In the same year in the Highlands region, where most of the CHPNG clinical mentoring takes place, 851 new HIV registrations were recorded.

Since 2017, ASHM is working as part of a consortia on a concurrent and complementary project, the Sexual & Reproductive Health Integration Project (SRHIP) in PNG to expand reach and coverage of STI, HIV, SRH and primary health services within CCHS and Anglicare PNG. The specific focus of SRHIP aims to integrate standalone HIV clinics into PNG's primary health system; and to establish referral pathways to broader SRH services.

 

Project Focus

The Collaboration for Health in Papua New Guinea (CHPNG) is a partnership which continues to build on the last 14 years of collaboration and work between the CHPNG, ASHM, Caritas, Igat Hope, PNG National Department of Health (NDOH), National Association for People living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA)National Catholic AIDS Office and the Catholic Church Health Services of PNG (CCHS) aiming at building the local capacity of the health workers and the local communities of PNG to HIV by: 

  • establishing and strengthening the role of HIV day care centres – local facilities where those with HIV and their families can be counselled, sheltered and advised by trained local volunteer health workers
  • strengthening the capacity of HIV healthcare by working with teams of local health workers
  • providing an ASHM Clinical Mentoring Program since 2008

ASHM plays a key clinical training and mentorship role in CHPNG leading on the training of multidisciplinary teams of nearly 400 PNG healthcare workers to manage HIV. Our Clinical Advisors provide ongoing education to improve the skills of those providing care.

ASHM also provides a clinical mentoring program focusing on HIV treatment and management (ARV therapy, point-of-care testing, including HIV rapid-test technologies), sexual health screening, and practical in-consultation case management.

 

Location Scope

Clinical mentoring delivered to Catholic HIV and AIDS Service (CHASI) health workers in 7 provinces:

  • Yampu, Enga Province
  • Wewak, East Sepik Province
  • Madang, Madang Province
  • Rabiamul and Mount Hagen, Western Highlands Province
  • Mendi, Southern Highlands Province
  • Tari, Hela Province
  • West New Britain Province

 

Project Timeline

2003 – Present

 

Results

  • The development and upskill of local clinical mentors and of the PNG Sexual Health Society, which now provides mentoring and training to both faith-based and government HIV services
  • STI services, including the establishment of seven rural laboratories in four provinces in collaboration with the Caritas Australia STI Improvement’ program 2007 – 2013 and the Highlands Sexual Health Support Program 2014
  • PNG HIV training workshops delivered to PNG doctors (in conjunction with ) and a Pacifika Trainer of Trainer Program 2012-2014 which has contributed to similar mentoring programs in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
  • Supporting access and continued treatment of over 3,416 people living with HIV in eight provinces, through the Catholic HIV and AIDS Service (CHASI)—around one-third of PNG’s HIV-affected population who are receiving treatment. (Based on 2012 Selected Universal Access and Global AIDS Response Progress Report Indicators)
  • Since 2003, the provision of 74 clinical and laboratory mentoring visits to CHASI sites in eight provinces of PNG
  • Since 2003, the training of 292 health care workers in HIV, STI and related issues
  • Participation of 29 health care workers at the ASHM International Short Course in HIV Medicine & Related Conditions and the Australasian HIV & AIDS Conferences.
  • Training of a person living with HIV in community health and ART-prescribing who is now independently managing an ART clinic

 

Outcomes

ASHM have a well-established pool of Australian and PNG based mentors who have long standing relationships with the clinics they support. This enables open communication and facilitates strong knowledge sharing and skills building. Clinical mentoring visits will continuem, alomg with the training of health workers from PNG and other Pacific countries in ART Prescribing. Further mentoring and training is planned to support the Catholic Health Service HIV clinics; the HSHSP and Caritas-funded STI laboratories and the PNG health workforce.

 

Clinical and Laboratory Mentors

  • Dr Arun Menon  |  Director Sexual Health Service, Townsville Hospital and Health Service QLD
  • Dr George Kotsiou  |  Department of Infectious Diseases & Microbiology, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney NSW
  • Dr Colin MacLeod  |  Clinical Senior Lecturer Medicine (Immunology & Infectious Diseases), Sydney University NSW
  • Mr Bruce Miles (Laboratory Mentor)  |  Microbiology Department, Pathology North, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney NSW
  • Dr John Millan  |  Director, PNG Sexual Health Society
  • A/Prof Catherine O’Connor  |  Director Sexual Health Service, Community Health, Sydney Local Health District NSW
  • Dr Kimberly Oman  |  Infectious Diseases Physician, Townsville Hospital and Health Service QLD
  • Dr Emanuel Vlahakis  |  Sexual Health Physician and General Practitioner, Taylor Square Private Clinic NSW

 

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Michelle O'Connor  |  ASHM International HIV&SRH Program Adviser

Michelle.OConnor@ashm.org.au  |  +61 2 8204 0736

 

​More on the Collaboration for Health in Papua New Guinea (CHPNG)​

CHPNG [screen].gifThe CHPNG is a philanthropic initiative of private companies in the pharmaceutical industry, based in Australia, which supports HIV health care services in the PNG national Catholic health system. The Catholic health system provides services to a large proportion of the PNG population and is a key player in the national response to HIV and AIDS.

As part of this program ASHM conducts a clinical mentoring program across a wide range of locations and targeted workshops to clinics and health services in the Southern Highlands, Enga, Chimbu and West New Britain provinces. For more information on CHPNG, visit the CHPNG website