Chronic hepatitis B, the world’s second most potent carcinogen, is a life-long illness and prevalent throughout PNG. Hepatitis B is chronic if it has been in the body for more than six months. It occurs when the body cannot get rid of the virus, so it stays inside the body and can eventually lead to severe liver disease and liver cancer if left untreated. Chronic hepatitis B usually has no symptoms and that is why it is so dangerous.
A/Professor Dr Lee, MBBS (Hons), FRACP, PhD (University of Sydney) is a human dynamo. She is a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist; Senior Staff Specialist, Concord Repatriation General Hospital; Head Gastroenterology, Macquarie University Hospital; VMO, The Canterbury hospital; Co-founder and Director: Hepatitis B free (non for profit charity to improve health outcomes to disadvantaged communities); President: Korean Australian Medical Association; Chair: Korean Health Committee; and Vice President: World Korean Medical Organisation
With generous support from Sue Huntley of Huntley Clinical Research Services they have formed a group with the primary aim of improving health delivery to Oro Province in PNG, up skilling the local health care workers through education and sourcing of ongoing training tools. They also plane to explore ways to improve nutrition and reduce preventable parasite infestation, i.e. worms.
Network Kokoda – www.networkkokoda.org – were able to facilitate meetings with the Governor of Oro Province, The Hon Gary Juffa and PNG’s First Lady, Lynda Babao, wife of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. We will also be providing logistic support to Dr Lee’s immunization programs through Warren Bartlett at Sogeri Enterprises. Warren has lived in PNG for 48 years and is a former CEO of the Kokoda Track Authority.
Pictured below: A/Professor Alice Lee, First Lady of PNG, Lynda Babao, Sue Huntley
A/Professor Lee will lead a team of 21 (11 doctors and nurses and 10 Redeemer Baptist personnel) to Itokama, Tahama, Gajot and Serapuna in Oro Province in January 2014.
Their next major initiative is a large scale immunization program for the Kokoda area in July in partnership with the Oro Provincial Health Department, the Popondetta General Hospital Kokoda Hospital and Network Kokoda. A/Professor Lee will lead a team to immunize 5,000 people from the Kokoda area during this program.
Network Kokoda is proud to assist in sharing A/Professor Lee’s dream of helping to make “PNG Hep B Free’.
Email from Mrs Sue Huntley of Huntley Clinical Research Services:
Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how grateful/elated/blessed I feel to have recently met you, members of your PNG entourage (not quite sure that is the right word, perhaps partners) and everyone you introduced both Alice and I to over the last couple of days. I have had time to reflect on our recent meeting and what a reflections that is, it also make my top 10 most memorable experiences.
Your faith that after a relatively short phone conversation and invitation to PNG that was accepted, your generous allowance to strangers both in time and advice, along with generous invitations to lunch and dinner. Your example and enthusiastic spirit has given me renewed vigour to which I will continue to follow what was initially Alice’s dream and is now part of my dreams also.
If I am lucky enough, in the future, to be asked for advice and guidance, I will use our initial meeting as a guide for how to proceed so that the person pitching the idea feels they have my full attention. You embraced strangers, with an acceptance that can only be admired. You embraced someone’s dream and pledged partnership in a great and worthwhile venture. This along with the wisdom of experience, generous spirit and advice, I believe we are going to have a far greater outcome/impact and save many more lives as a result of the meetings.
I look forward to working with you and the Kokoda Network on this project.
Safe travels on this trek as we all look forward to meeting again to discuss the extension of this journey.
From A/Professor Alice Lee:
I, too would like to echo Sue’s sentiments.
We have only just stopped pinching ourselves and it is very strange to be back to routine.
I am headed back later this week and hope to be able to make further progress with our project.
Since our last visit, we have also been in contact with another group of medics who are working in the Oro Province as well as KarKar island.
They are going to be in Popondetta in early December and we are looking at a quick vaccination blitz whilst they are working on family planning. Doors keep opening everywhere we turn.
The project in Kar Kar maybe far bigger that what we had even imagined. There are 60 000 persons that may potentially benefit. We are working on making this happen.
We are very blessed to have great people support us along the way and again, thank you and we too look forward to sharing this amazing journey with you.
Pictured below: Dr. Liz Walsh, Dr. Alice Lee, Sue Huntley, Melissa Kermeen (RN), Jodee Wise (RN) on a previous visit to PNG:
Presentation slides by A/Professor Alice Lee: