10 May 19
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NREF first visited Buna in April 2014 and developed relationships with local Community Health Worker’s (CHW’s) and Village Leaders. Since then, a collaborative partnership between Kokoda Initiative Partnership (DFAT), KTF, and ourselves has developed and in 2018 we co-funded the building of a new and improved Buna Health Centre.
The next vital component in supporting this new Health Centre, is to develop the capacity of the people to help themselves. In May 2019, a group of educators returned to Buna and conducted training 60 Village Health Volunteers (VHV) and Village Birth Assistants (VBA).
In January 2020, we envisaged we would return to Buna will small groups of clinicians to further support the training and development of this committed group of community members with the goal of creating a VHV’s association that will advocate for improved health outcomes for their communities. In order to facilitate this, we planned on returning to the Northern Beaches twice a year for the next three years.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and all travel has been restricted. We have responded by developing a ten week online training and mentoring program for these villages. We have purchased a laptop for the community and bandwidth on the internet so that we could run the programs. The project is called Northern Beaches Connect and has been accepted with great enthusiasm by the local communities.
Week 4 of Northern Beaches Connect.
Providing video-based training to our network of village health advocates included a session on managing fractures and applying casts. Rodney is a Community Health Care Worker in Buna working in the Health Centre re-built by the NREF in partnership with the Australian High Commission. He was able to complement the training delivered by our videos by providing practical demonstrations on how to apply a cast.