Careers: Working in Kompiam District Health Service PNG

Ryan Agnew is an Australian-trained doctor from Adelaide currently working for 12 months in PNG. Ryan worked in Cairns in 2018 as an intern and in 2019 as an RMO.
When he returns from PNG he intends to train as a rural generalist.

Ryan Agnew (second from left) in front of Kompian Hospital

Kompiam is located within the Enga province of the PNG highlands. It is locally known as the “last place” as it the end of the road, where the road turns to dense jungle, sharp cliff and mighty rivers. It has multiple associated outposts which offer primary health care interventions, such as immunisations, and are staffed by health workers (1 year university course). Most of these peripheral centres are only able to be reached by foot or by air.

Kompiam Hospital has approximately 70 beds, shared amongst medical, surgical, paediatric, obstetric and a tuberculosis wards. There are approximately 70 staff employed at the hospital, with a 50/50 split of medical and non-medical.

Medical staff include doctors (of which there are three currently), a health extension officer, a dentist and nursing staff. The non-medical staff includes security, maintenance, drivers, administration and finance people.  

Electricity is sourced from solar panels and is stored in a complicated battery system, which is often sufficient to not only power the Hospital but also staff housing. There is a diesel generator which can be used to supplement the electricity.

Like the electricity, the Hospitals water supply is from the sky.

There is a medical laboratory with modern equipment for testing: haemoglobin levels, White cell differential, some electrolytes and LFTs (K+, Na+, ALP, CK, eGFR) as well as a TB gene Xpert ( a machine confirming the diagnosis of TB, only accepting sputum and lymph node tissue). We have rapid test strips for infectious diseases of HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Malaria. We have the equipment to do blood grouping and cross matching for blood transfusions.

For imaging there is a flash new digital Xray machine and an USS machine.

There is new operating theatre with 2 suites, 2 anaesthetic machines and two operating tables.

The hospital has been a continually expanding project, changing from an 8 bed hospital in 2000, with a cement ceiling operating theatre, to the 70 bed multi-ward hospital it is now, with new expansion to come. Around 15 years ago a group of designers from Architects Without Borders came to Kompiam to design the wards and the phases of expansion. First phase was the paeds ward, newly opened when I first came to Kompiam in the wet season of 2013/2014. The maternity ward was opened in 2016 and the operating theatre was opened in 2019. Since then construction for a new outpatient wing with an emergency style bay has begun. On Sunday the 16/2/20 the Australian Consulate in PNG pledged 500,000 AUD of Ausaid funding a year for the next 5 years.

Another exciting new project in the pipeline is a trial of a flying doctors style set up to be based in Kompiam. It will be aimed initially at labouring women within the health region and it is estimated our current birth numbers will increase from 200 per year to 800 per year. This 3-month trial is due to start in April.

The Hospital is funded through multiple sources. It is set up by Baptist World Aid and co supported with funding from the PNG government. NGOs, private donations and external government sources such as AusAid also contribute substantially.

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