From humble beginnings as a housekeeper to becoming one of two health workers in Porebada, Loa Lohia’s determination to help improve health services for her community is now a reality.
The 29-year-old recalls growing up in Porebada and witnessing the struggles faced by her people daily to receive health care.
“Many years ago, we only had one community health worker here and could not cater for the health needs of my people. I observed in my community that communicable diseases easily spread as there is a lack of hygiene.”
So she focused on being part of the solution and, with determination, Loa recently completed her Community Health Work studies at Rumginae training school in Kiunga, Western Province.
Loa has faced many challenges in her life. In 2012, she completed grade 12 and was offered a spot at one of PNG’s universities. She was unable to continue her studies due to lack of funds and instead found a job as a housekeeper for the Laba Alliance Group contracted by ExxonMobil PNG’s LNG Plant.
After working for Laba for almost six years, in 2016 Loa heard about the Australia Awards PNG LNG scholarship program and applied to complete her education.
In 2017, she was among 15 young people from within PNG LNG project areas that secured scholarships to study the Certificate of Community Health Work at Rumginae, St Gerard’s or Raihu Community Health Work training schools.
“I graduated on March 13th 2019, a week before my graduation, this health clinic opened. I thank ExxonMobil PNG for paying for my tuition fee for my two years of Community Health studies in Kiunga.”
The Porebada health clinic was built by Gas Resources PNG LNG Limited and Mineral Resources Development Company using PNG LNG royalty and equity infrastructure trust funds.
Loa is one of two community health workers stationed at the clinic which serves almost 15,000 people.
“On average per day, we see about 100 patients, from babies to the elderly as we open from 8am to 4pm. Our patients come from Roku, Kouderika, Papa, Lea Lea and Porebada.”
“Right now, the leading health case is tuberculosis and then intestinal such as diarrhoea and vomiting.”
“I have been putting into practice what I have learnt from deliveries, general nursing, patient care, and conducting health awareness. Promoting personnel hygiene and healthier nutritious meals are part of the basic awareness that we conduct here.”
Gas Resources Director, Peter Vagi, hailed Loa for leading the way in health care in the community.
“Loa is giving back to the community in a big way in terms of health care with the experience she has earned professionally.”
“We, as the community leaders, are appreciative and see the true worth of such training.”
Meanwhile, Loa aims to gain as much work experience as she can and hopes to continue in the medical field and work towards becoming a Health Extension Officer.