Our health programs portfolio has always only looked at social inclusion and rehabilitation of people living with special needs. This year, Digicel Foundation expanded its scope of work to include optical health and maternal health.
Digicel PNG Foundation’s focus of providing services for people living with a disability is mainly done through the support of two key programs – the Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Program through our partner Cheshire Disability Services and the support of vulnerable women and children at risk through the We Care Foundation.
Through the Community-based Rehabilitation Program, our partners from the Cheshire home identify people in the community that have disabilities and train the carers on how to give them support. To date, this program has impacted the lives of 1,414 people. Lack of awareness, education, medical help and appropriate services makes life for people with disabilities and special needs difficult. The efforts of Digicel PNG Foundation in these areas is promoting collaboration with community leaders, people with disabilities, their families and other concerned citizens to raise awareness and change mindsets about disability and special needs in rural, remote and socially marginalized communities of Papua New Guinea.
Vision Impairment has always been a problem in Papua New Guinea, however, very little has been done about it. Many of the cases that lead to blindness in PNG are related to social and environmental factors, such as diet, substance abuse and acts of violence. Recognizing the need for awareness for preventative measures and treatment of clients who are partially blind, we partnered with Fred Hollows this year to carry out awareness activities, training workshops and providing spectacles to clients who need them.
Another program area that Digicel Foundation has embarked on is addressing is maternal health. PNG has one of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality which currently stands at 1 death every 20 deliveries. In 2018 we partnered with Samaritan Aviation to assist with the purchase of their second float plane that services the remote river communities of East Sepik Provinces to assist pregnant women to reach health centres where they can have a supervised delivery. Through the support we have also funded Emergency Obstetrics Training for community health workers in the health centres that the float plane services to ensure they are better equipped to supervise deliveries of babies.