In November 2013 Interplast sent a team including two plastic surgeons, two anaesthetists and two nurses to Papua New Guinea. They were joined by PNG’s trainee plastic surgeon, Dr Morath Maire (who is based in Port Moresby). The team spent seven days in Mt Hagen, consulting approximately 150 people and treating at least 40 patients from the Western Highlands area, with a focus also on training the local personnel, in particular, Dr Maire.
Mt Hagen is the third largest city in PNG, and is the capital of the Western Highlands Province. Conditions such as cleft lip and palate, which are treated very early in developed countries, often go untreated until adulthood, if at all, in PNG – due to lack of surgical services available which can treat these conditions, as well as economic and geographical barriers to accessing treatment. These individuals will in many cases live a life of stigma and ridicule from their communities, often missing out on education, employment and other fundamental human rights.
The cost to fund this program was about $60,000 and Interplast was facing a shortfall of $30,000 when Dr Moss heard about their plans and predicament and offered to donate the funds necessary to give the surgical and training activity the green light. The funds were combined with other funding obtained through valued supporters.
‘Papua New Guinea continues to be one of Interplast’s key priorities. With only one qualified and one trainee plastic and reconstructive surgeon to service a population of over seven million, Interplast plays a significant role in providing access to much needed training and surgical services. It breaks our hearts when we have to turn people away in places like Mt Hagen. This funding makes such a difference to many’ – says Interplast CEO Prue Ingram.
‘The lack of specialist services available to remote communities, long waiting times and fear of surgery is a real problem in many countries. We were delighted to be able to assist Interplast in providing life-changing surgery for so many people’, says Dr Moss.
Dr Moss presented the cheque to Prue Ingram who is the CEO of Interplast Australia and New Zealand on Friday August 2 2013.
Tabitha (pictured) is from Mt Hagen in PNG. She was unable to have the life changing cleft lip and cleft palate surgery when the Interplast team was last there in January 2012.