Everyday People - Winnie Sagiu

Presenting a research paper at the 56th Annual Medical Symposium in Port Moresby in front of doctors and professors was something Winnie Sagiu never expected.

The Australia Awards Short Course graduate was surprised to be acknowledged, despite her commitment and passion for research.

“I was so excited at first when I heard that my paper had been accepted by the Scientific Research Committee for presentation. Then I was nervous and doubted myself.

“I felt inferior, as I am just a diploma and graduate certificate holder who will be presenting in front of these professionals.

“With confidence and trust in God, I presented the paper, and I was acknowledged for a very good presentation.”

Sagiu was one of more than 80 presenters at this five-day event in September, which was attended by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health and HIV, professionals from the Medical Society of Papua New Guinea and students.

Her paper on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy was timely, relevant to the Symposium theme and built upon research she conducted earlier last year on vaccine uptake among health care workers in East Sepik Province.

She conducted the research after studying a Graduate Certificate in Governance and Public Policy (Social Research Methods). She was one of twenty other Papua New Guineans to study the short course from July 2021 to February 2022.

The 43-year-old learned about the Australia Awards scholarship through an alumni post on Facebook and applied while working as an environmental health officer for the East Sepik Provincial Health Authority.

Sagiu coordinates the environmental health programs in Wewak District which comprise WASH, food safety practices, waste management, vector control, environmental health impact assessment, disaster and disease outbreak response, health promotion and awareness and other public health activities.

“One significant thing I learned is to plan and make decisions based on evidence. And that evidence has to come from research.”

The skills that Sagiu acquired have helped her to coordinate a five-year WASH program in Wewak, starting with a district-wide baseline survey.

She also found the webinars and workshops hosted through the Australia Awards PNG Alumni very useful for her learning.

She has shared her experience and key information about the scholarships offered through Australia Awards PNG with her colleagues.

“I have always encouraged other colleagues who wish to apply for the scholarships to read instructions carefully and provide all the necessary requirements.

“I would like to acknowledge AAPNG and the University of Queensland for this study opportunity and the support offered during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Press release