The voyage comes after the successful completion of Stage 2 of the vessel's refit and represents the debut of the MV YWAM PNG's brand-new dentistry clinic and day procedure unit which will give thousands of people in remote villages access to dentistry and ophthalmic procedures.
YWAM Medical Ships Managing Director, Mr Ken Mulligan, said the MV YWAM PNG’s return to PNG is cause for much celebration.
“This voyage represents the completion of another important milestone that many people in PNG, Australia and around the world have been hoping and working toward for a long time.
“There have been so many people who have generously given to help get us to this point – we have such gratitude in our hearts with our vessel now back in PNG waters; stocked and equipped to serve thousands of people in remote areas,” said Mr Mulligan.
The MV YWAM PNG’s new dentistry clinic and day procedure unit has capacity for four dentists and two surgeons to be operating at once while additional mobile teams run primary health care and optometry clinics ashore. The new clinical space will also create space for Papua New Guinean dentists, ophthalmologists, and dental and ophthalmic students to gain experience, training, and support alongside YWAM Medical Ships volunteers.
YWAM Medical Ships’ Patron – PNG, the Right Honourable Sir Rabbie Namaliu, said it brings him great joy to have the MV YWAM PNG home in PNG waters.
“Today marks the start of a new season – we are more equipped than we’ve ever been before. I am full of anticipation and hold great hope for what’s ahead in 2016.
“We’ve been on a remarkable journey so far – the service of this Training and Medical Ship in PNG would not be possible without the support of the PNG National Government, Southern Region and Morobe Provincial Governments, and our corporate sponsors along with wonderful contributions from Australian Aid and grassroot supporters. It’s a real team effort,” said Sir Rabbie.
The MV YWAM PNG will visit Gulf, Western, Central, Oro, Milne Bay and Morobe Provinces from February – June, working closely alongside the PNG National Department of Health, Provincial Health Authorities, local health workers and community leaders.
Over 350 people have registered to volunteer onboard the MV YWAM PNG over the coming months, including a strong number of Papua New Guineans from all over the country.
Upon the MV YWAM PNG’s return to Townsville in June, the onboard laboratory will be completed to support essential diagnostics (such as for tuberculosis and leprosy) in remote areas. A helipad is also planned to be added to the vessel to help with emergency transfers.
Once all renovations are complete, the MV YWAM PNG will be positioned to operate 11 months of the year, serving an estimated 188,000 people per annum.
Community, corporate, government and church representatives will celebrate the unveiling of the new clinics on Friday evening aboard the MV YWAM PNG before she sets sail for the Gulf Province for her first outreach the following day.
Supporters of YWAM Medical Ships include the PNG National Government, Australian Aid, Puma Energy, Steamships Trading Company, InterOil, Western, Gulf, Central, Milne Bay, Oro and Morobe Provincial Governments, PNG Ports Corporation, Rotarians Against Malaria and Pro-Ma Systems.