Health Projects Run by the AHS
Village Health Aides (VHAs)
What is the need ?Life expectancy is 54.6 for males and 53.5 for females, which is the lowest in the Pacific Region and 25 years younger than in most western countries.
There is a high incidence of Pneumonia, TB and other respiratory diseases, Malaria and skin diseases. There is also increasing anxiety about the rising incidence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, HIV and AIDS.
The majority of people living in rural communities have long distances to walk from their village to a health facility, resulting in many people not seeking help early enough when they are sick. The consequence of this is that the risk of long term disability or death is much greater.
There is an increasing disparity between the educated middle class living in the towns and cities and the 85% of people who live in villages.
Personal StoryPaul lives 3 hours walk away from the Aid Post at Gadovisu. When he was sick with Malaria he was glad that Isiah, the Village Health Aide, was able to give him the Chloroquine he badly needed. and within a few days he had started to recover. In the past his fellow villagers were not so fortunate - he remembered before there was a VHA sick villagers often had to be carried across this rocky terrain to the Aid Post. The best that they could hope for was that someone would run to the Aid Post to fetch the Community Health Worker, and that he was not occupied elsewhere.
How do VHAs help ?VHAs are selected by their communities and attend an initial two week training course, following which they receive a VHA Manual; VHA Kit including a limited range of medicines, Certificate and Badge.
They are trained to recognise the more common illnesses, of which they can treat the most simple ones themselves in their own village, and refer serious conditions to a trained health worker at the Aid Post or Health Centre.
An analysis of VHA consultations in Dogura diocese (Milne Bay Province) showed that:-
Where do VHAs work ?There are currently about 150 VHAS working in the remote villages in Milne Bay Province, the Jimi Valley of Western Highlands and the Siane District of Chimbu Province. We are in the process of extending the programme to Oro Province and West New Britain. VHAs work in the more remote villages, where sick patients find it difficult to walk to the health centre or aid post. Because the project is training people from their own villages it facilitates local people to help themselves. The villagers democratically select and support their own VHAs and are thus enabled to take action to improve their own health.