Short/Long Term Missions

Medical and Nursing Electives

Spending your elective period with us
village Few visitors to Papua New Guinea venture far from the main centres of Port Moresby, Lae, Mt Hagen and Goroka. Tourists may add Rabaul and Madang to their itinery. As a result they never get to know the 'real PNG', which is the isolated rural areas where 85% of the population live.

An elective with the Anglican Health Service will give you a rare insight into the life and culture of rural Papua New Guinea, which will be quite different from anything you have previously experienced.

Quotes from previous elective students
"Papua New Guinea is an extraordinary country and I am extremely grateful to those who helped me before and during my stay, and those who let me share a little in the life of their communities.....I saw a great deal of beauty....I hope that some of it remains lodged in my mind for a long time yet....I was deeply impressed with the community life of the people....sharing in celebration and sorrow....prepared to help one another when they fell into difficulty.....I hope that my worldview has altered..."
Stephen Ford 2000, Liverpool, UK.

"I chose rural Papua new Guinea as an ideal location to experience tropical medicine in an environment totally different from my own. I was fascinated by the cultural diversity of PNG (over 700 languages are spoken by a population of less than 5 million)......I am seriously considering long-term overseas medical work in a developing are expected to participate in the life of the village community....It is not a place for those who are looking for an exiting night life as the generator is only on for 4 hours in the evening....Food is pretty can get by on a couple of pounds a day...."
Suzie Havard 2001, Cambridge, UK.

At present we are happy to consider elective candidates for the following three locations:

light aircraft St Barnabas Rural Hospital in Dogura, Milne Bay Province, which is in a beautiful coastal location accessible by a 3 hour dinghy journey from Alotau, the provincial capital. There is a daily flight from Port Moresby to Alotau or
St Margaret's Rural Hospital which overlooks Oro Bay in Oro Province. It can be reached by a 45 minute road journey from Popondetta, the provincial capital. There is a daily flight from Port Moresby to Popondetta and an overnight sea vessel from Lae to Oro Bay, which travels weekly or
St John's Rural Hospital, Koinambe where we have one weekly flight from Madang and one weekly flight from Mt Hagen.

patrol duty You will work under the supervision of an expatriate medical officer recruited either through a mission agency or through VSO. The general condition set by The Medical Faculty of the University of Papua New Guinea is that you are not permitted to diagnose patients, perform procedures, or treat patients, except under the supervision of your medical supervisor. He/she will prepare your supervisor's report, which will be sent to the Dean of the Medical Faculty for him to certify the elective term.

We would expect to receive a copy of your own report and any material you publish as a result of the elective.

The Work
The Anglican Health Service is essentially a primary health care organisation. Most of the communities in Milne Bay, Oro Provinces and Western Highlands live in very isolated locations, with no road access. You will spend most of your time based at one of either St Barnabas, St Margaret's or St John's seeing outpatients, doing ward rounds and involved in mother and child health activities.

You will probably accompany your medical supervisor twice on clinic patrols during your stay. These patrols usually involve several hours of walking over rugged terrain or travelling by dinghy, and sleeping on the floor (no bed) in a bush material house. Water is carried from the nearest creek and you will use a pit toilet. You should bring the equivalent of an extra K250, in case the patrol involves an air flight.

We have found from experience that expatriate students gain more if we are able to accommodate you with one of the PNG national health workers living on the site, who would expect you to contribute food. As meals here are very basic this would be no more than 5-10 Kina per day. At the current exchange rate that would be a maximum of 2-3 UK pounds. This will also apply when you are on patrol.

Religious Affiliation
As all of our communities are Christian, only Christians are accepted. You would be expected to attend the local Anglican church whilst on the station and on patrol. You should at all times conduct yourself in accordance with Christian principles.

Remember that you will always be on show and are never off duty! It is therefore not permissible, for example, for unmarried male and female elective students to share accommodation.

Security Risks
Some expatriates make much of security risks in PNG. Sadly the incidents, which do occur are greatly exaggerated by the Australian media, causing visitors to gain a greatly distorted view of the risks. We have lived in PNG for over 8 years and would make the following observations:-

  1. The further away you travel from the main centres, particularly Port Moresby and Lae, the lower the risk. People in rural areas are very trustworthy and protective to visitors.
  2. It is unwise to walk around urban areas after dark, but to keep it in perspective, it is no worse than parts of Sydney or Birmingham. On the other hand we believe you are completely safe in villages.
Malaria is endemic in PNG. You must, therefore:-

a) Protect yourself at night. We will supply you with a treated mosquito net to sleep under.
b) If you have to go out after dusk or early in the morning use an a insect repellent spray or lotion to protect exposed skin.
c)Take anti-malarial medication.

The recommended medication is:-

  • Chloroquine 300mgm weekly, and
  • Paludrine (Proguanil) 200mgm taken daily together with meals
Halofantrine (Halfan) and Mefloquine are strongly not recommended.

Further Information and Application
Check the AHS Health Strategy pdf file for more in-depth information concerning AHS.

Read the reports of previous elective students :-

Contact us by fax: 675 3279 889 or e-mail:

If you reside in the UK you may wish to contact Chris Luxton at the Papua New Guinea Church Partnership (PNGCP) for further information and advice.

You should send your application 6 months before the intended date of your elective in order that we may process your application. You should send the following documents:-

  1. Completed Application Form (pdf format)
  2. Your CV
  3. Original letter of good standing from the head of studies at your training institution (The PNG medical school will not accept photocopies)
These should be addressed to:-

The National Health Secretary
Anglican Health Service
National Headquarters
PO Box 245
Papua New Guinea

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This web-site was last updated on the 20th of Nov. 2004