Stories

COVID-19 Leadership: Securing Funding for PNG Healthcare

Friday, 26 February 2021

Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) alumni Scholar Pope, Eunice Eva, Irene Semos and Lomot Rodney are working together to empower Papua New Guinean (PNG) healthcare workers to secure vital funding.

Their Proposal Writing and Management Training for Infrastructure Improvement project aims to improve health infrastructure needed to prevent COVID-19 transmission in Namatanai District by training healthcare middle managers in project proposal writing and management.

The team says filling this skill ‘gap’ not only helps healthcare managers identify funding available and improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure, but also promotes developmental leadership.

About the Proposal-Writing and Management Project

Funded by WLI in response to COVID-19, the project engaged a local consultancy firm to train approximately 20 rural healthcare middle managers in Namatanai District, New Ireland Province.

The three-day workshops, delivered in September 2020, focused on project proposal writing and management knowledge sharing to help participants “identify immediate infrastructure needs for WASH and COVID-19 prevention”.

Because inadequate facilities have “proven hazardous for patients and healthcare workers, and a hindrance to carry out COVID-19 measures in Papua New Guinea”, the team says this staff capacity building work is vital.

And while dilapidating infrastructure may be easy to identify, the team believes “there is a gap in the application of knowledge and skills when it comes to identifying infrastructure-based projects” that could be implemented in rural New Ireland.

Additional Project Benefits

In addition to the infrastructural improvements the project hopes to drive, the team says it also promotes the inclusion of hard-to-reach rural communities – especially women.

“The training has empowered these healthcare workers to participate in change and development in their communities and environment,” the team says.

“Not only do these skills create opportunities for better WASH outcomes and COVID-19 prevention in the long run, they also promote the leadership role of female rural health middle managers,” they add. 

And while infrastructure-aligned, the skills learned through the project can be utilised by managers seeking alternative funding to “improve service delivery at the primary health level”.

Applying WLI Lessons to the Project

Project Leader Scholar Pope explains that skills and networks gained as a WLI participant significantly benefited her at different stages of the project. These include adaptive leadership, employing active listening, taking care with interpersonal communication, and planning and organising.

“During the process I had to adjust according to the needs and analysis of the project, I was not confident at first, but gained confidence as I progressed,” Scholar says.

And while not having her team in the same location made things “difficult”, with half participating from Australia, Scholar affirms that online communication platforms made things easier.

Strengthening Networks on the Ground

Another positive outcome of the project was the strengthened partnerships between the team and local suppliers, communities and health and government authorities.

The project was not only well receivied by the participants themselves, but attracted significant support from the highest levels of Provincial Government.

At the presentation ceremony, "I was overwhelemed by the large delegation from the Provincial Assembly, Provincial Administration and New Ireland Provincial Health Authority" Scholar says. 

There was even a "keynote speech from Governor Sir Julius Chan, something I did not even anticipate" she adds. 

The project team have commenced monitoring visits with the participants, and look forward to seeing the positive outcomes of this project over the coming months.

Hospital Manager Mr. Latosi at Namatanai District has already made significant progress on his 'Improvement of Water Supply Project' with the help of the training in September 2020. 

"Thank you Scholar for putting me to this training, I really appreciate it" says Mr. Latosi.  

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Scholar, Irene, Lomot and Eunice’s Proposal Writing and Management Training for Infrastructure Improvement project represents one of 15 COVID-19-related leadership projects being conducted by WLI participants and alumni in the Pacific.

Funded by WLI, teams work collaboratively to scope, develop and implement projects with a focus on health, education, safety and security, and agriculture and food security are being implemented across six Pacific countries (Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Nauru, Tonga and Solomon Islands).

Find out more about each project here.