13 Sep 2012

Australasian anaesthetists give medical help in PNG

7:04 pm on 13 September 2012

Australian and New Zealand anaesthetists are volunteering their time in Papua New Guinea over the next fortnight to provide much-needed surgery for local children.

The group from the Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists is visiting Port Moresby and Mount Hagen to operate on patients and teach PNG doctors about advanced paediatric surgery.

PNG has only 15 trained anaesthetists to service a population of over 7 million.

New Zealand, in comparison, has about 700 anaesthetists for its much maller population.

Dr Michael Cooper, who is leading the mission, says the lack of anaesthetists in PNG is due to limited funding at the tertiary level.

"The local communities value their doctors enormously, they're very respected member of the community and I think funding is probably the main issue. Tertiary education is very expensive in a developing country with very limited resources, I think they have plenty of bright young people wanting to do medicine but its actually hard to get into those limited number of spaces."

Volunteer anaesthetist Dr Michael Cooper.