More than 300 people have had their hearing and eyesight tested by Callan Services under a disability assessment pilot program through the PNG-Australia Partnership supported Kokoda Initiative Program.
Screenings were carried out in communities, schools and health centres in Sogeri and Mt Koiari in Central Province. The screening was overseen by Callan Services program manager, Peter Sindu, and ear and eye trainer, Br Desmond Taboeya.
Many people with eyesight issues received prescription glasses on the spot, while others requiring special lenses were referred to Callan Services Inclusive Education Resource Centre or PNG Eye Care clinics.
The exercise also identified people with other types of disabilities, and assessed the gaps in accessibility and disability support services.
Australian High Commissioner, Jon Philp, said the disability assessment program and maternal and child health patrols was an opportunity to improve access to services in remote areas by delivering them directly to communities.
“As someone who wears glasses, I know firsthand what a big improvement they make to all aspects of life, especially learning.”
“I’m glad we were able to support these important eye and hearing checks.”
“Through these sessions, the Kokoda Initiative’s health program is able to learn more about the needs of these communities and provide support to assist people living with disabilities along the track,” the High Commissioner said.
Mr Sindu said the activity was significant for the communities and is already benefiting many people.
“This is a very good opportunity to provide disability support services to those in remote communities,” he said.
“We can identify and provide immediate interventions for individuals we screened and completed a general assessments with.”
Further screenings for eyesight and hearing will be conducted in other communities along the Kokoda Track in the coming months.
They are also opportunities for village health volunteers to work alongside the Callan Services team, learning to provide appropriate referrals to people with disabilities.
The Kokoda Initiative is a partnership between Papua New Guinea and Australia which is enhancing the quality of life for communities in the Kokoda Track region.
(Br Desmond conducts a vision assessment for Lucy in Efogi)