Clinical mentoring is critical to ensuring that service providers are supported to provide high quality and up to date HIV and STI care and treatment. ASHM has supported the National Catholic AIDS Office, Papua New Guinea through the Collaboration for Health in Papua New Guinea (CHPNG) since 2003, to strengthen local capacity to manage and care for HIV-positive individuals by training teams of healthcare workers by region or centre; and to provide ongoing support of trained healthcare teams through regular mentoring visits from Australia based clinical specialists.

Health needs and challenges in PNG

The quality and availability of HIV diagnosis, care and treatment in PNG continues to be limited by severe resource shortages in the health system including lack of trained professionals and medical supplies to deliver basic health services. Misinformation and poor understanding about HIV has contributed to discriminatory attitudes toward people living with the virus, creating a hurdle to access health services. The shortage of skilled health workers mirrors the greater human resource challenge impacting on all service sectors in PNG.

An estimated 25,000 people were estimated to be living with HIV in 2012 in PNG with HIV prevalence being highest in the Highlands and Southern regions at 0.63% and 0.57% respectively. These figures reflect a downward revision of estimates from previous years, due in part to an improvement in the national surveillance systems but may also be suggestive of successful education, treatment and prevention programs.

In February 2017, ASHM delivered a 10-day training and mentorship course facilitated by Dr Arun Menon and Dr Kimberly Oman – two of ASHM’s International Clinical Advisors who are supporting the work of National Catholic AIDS Office, Papua New Guinea for health-care service staff working in HIV and STI management. The 10-day intensive course, largely based on ASHM’s HIV S100 Prescriber Program met in Mendi, PNG, with participants comprising of six HIV clinicians from Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Fiji; and 12 community health workers from PNG from government and Catholic health service clinics.
 
The mentor program focused on treatment and management of ART therapy, point-of-care testing (including HIV rapid test technologies), and practical in-consultation case management. It has allowed the clinician from Pacific countries and PNG healthcare workers to meet with their Australian counterparts to sharpen their skills, bolster their confidence and provide a network with which to discuss treatment options.

ASHM’s continuing work in PNG and Pacific HIV Workforce Capacity Building

Throughout 2017, ASHM will continue to rollout programs in Pacific countries to strengthen the clinical capacity of health care workers.

Pacific HIV Workforce Capacity Building

A 1-year program that started in 1 January 2017, and comprised the 10-day training in Mendi PNG, will continue to roll-out continuing Clinical Mentorship. There will be four follow-up visits to each of the clinicians, respectively in Vanuatu, Kiribati, Fiji, Solomon Island, and PNG. This project is funded by two unconditional grants: one by Gilead Sciences (Vanuatu, Kiribati, Fiji, Solomon Islands); and the other by CHPNG Collaboration for Health in PNG and Caritas (PNG).

 

Pacific Sexual Health Workforce Capacity Building Program

(1 May—30 April 2018)

Funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (or the Global Fund), this is a joint-program in partnership with the Oceania Society for Sexual Health and HIV Medicine (OSSHHM) ​. Clinical mentoring will continue to be the primary focus of the program, but will be adapted to include STIs, in order to meet the growing need to address STIs across 11 Pacific countries (Vanuatu, Kiribati, Niue, Nauru, Cook Is., Somoa, Tonga, Federated States Micronesia, Tuvala, Palau, Marshal Islands).

 

Seeking expressions of interest for ASHM International Program's consultancy pool 

With ASHM’s international work in these Pacific countries, the clinical mentoring model focuses on builds long-term relationships with clinical sites, organisations and governments to provide workforce development through training, mentoring and guided implementation of clinical guidelines and advanced practice in HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health—and where possible, engaging and supporting local specialists to undertake this essential work. ASHM are currently seeking expressions of interests for potential clinical mentors, namely:

  • HIV, STI & SRH Medical Specialists
    To develop and conduct clinical trainings and clinical mentoring on HIV, STIs, broader SRH and comorbidities. These specialists require a medical degree, international experience (highly desirable) and over 10 years of clinical experience in the area of specialty.

  • HIV, STI & SRH Nursing Specialists
    To develop and conduct trainings and mentoring on HIV, STIs, broader SRH and comorbidities. These specialists require a nursing degree, international experience (highly desirable) and over 10 years of clinical experience in the area of specialty.

  • International Public Health Specialists
    To develop and conduct trainings and programs on health systems strengthening, management, monitoring and evaluation, policy, advocacy, working with key populations and other project specific topics. These specialists may arise from multi-disciplinary backgrounds and require at least 5 years of experience working in international health and development.

Applications are to be emailed to paola.rosales@ashm.org.au by 5pm (AEST) on Monday 5th June 2017.

 

For more information

For enquiries about ASHM's Pacific programs, please contact Michelle O'Connor

 

More about the Collaboration for Health in Papua New Guinea (CHPNG)

ASHM’s work in PNG as part of the CHPNG partnership works with relevant departments of the Government of PNG including the Papua New Guinea Ministry of Health; the National Catholic AIDS Office, Papua New Guinea; the National Association for People living with HIV/AIDS in Australia (NAPWA); Igat Hope (the PNG association for PLHIV based in Waigani); PNG Sexual Health Society;  Australian Agency for International Development (AUSAID); and ViiV Healthcare in projects to build the local capacity of the people of PNG to fight the HIV epidemic.