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Alleah’s Medical Mission

Fourth-year medical student Alleah Maywald has recently returned from a week-long medical mission trip to Papua New Guinea. A team of volunteers treated 10,500 locals from the Mount Hagen area. Services provided included treatment for a whole host of issues including dental, vision, general medical ailments, infection treatment, tuberculosis, and much more.

Alleah flew from Brisbane via Port Moresby to Mount Hagen to meet the group of volunteers from the US and Australia as part of the Adventist World Radio organisation. Her mother, an OR nurse, joined her as well (this was a great chance for them to spend time together as Alleah’s busy medical school schedule does not allow her frequent trips home to Tasmania).

The team arrived and spent a day setting up the clinic and was treated to a welcome ceremony where 2,000 Mount Hagen residents welcomed them on the lawns and offered homemade gifts. They then proceeded to treat around 2,500 patients per day over the next four days. Many patients travelled by boat to attend this free clinic, and one couple had walked 50km overnight to ensure they could access care. Alleah explained, “the country’s medical system is a paper system. Each person is given a book at birth which they keep themselves as a means of maintaining medical records. This can become tricky if the book is lost.” And she also noted that some patients were seeing a doctor for the first time in their lives – some of whom were 40 or 50 years old.

Alleah spent her first two days in the pharmacy, dispatching medicine for every department. Her third day was in the triage, doing tuberculosis assessments. On Day 4 she was in general medicine, assisting an internal medicine physician, and advising on the medication that was available in the pharmacy.

In the end, Alleah was so happy that she slotted this worthwhile experience into her busy 18-week semester schedule. She said “while you take this type of opportunity to give back, you get so much more from it. I will never forget the faces we met and the impact that the medical team was able to provide for this community.”

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