Posted by Megan Kraa, 19 July, 2016

Open Heart International has aborted its scheduled visit to Port Moresby this week, after consultation with implementing partner Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH).

With recent civil unrest that had recentlyoccurred in PNG, Open Heart International had been closely monitoring the situation. While it was originally thought to be isolated the unrest has continued. It has the potential to escalate in the next few days; there is a planned special sitting of PNG parliament this Friday.

“Our colleagues at PMGH contacted us late yesterday afternoon. The civil unrest has spread to professional bodies, including healthcare workers. There is currently a widespread doctor’s strike for elective care, with nurses etc likely to join the strike. PMGH were of the view that they cannot guarantee we would have the local health staff to work with – and necessity for our mission – nor to teach. Combining this with potential safety issues for our team, they formally asked us to postpone our visit. OHI are very comfortable with this decision – whilst the risk of anything happening is low, the safety of our team is of utmost concern” say Project Coordinator Dr Darren Wolfers.

In an email to the volunteer team, Dr Wolfers also said “The situation has been unfolding rather fast. A week ago I was confident we were going with a strong security plan in place to ensure our safety. Unfortunately the situation has deteriorated since. I am as disappointed as you are, as are our colleagues at PMGH,about the outcome and know how disruptive this is to our schedules but I am confident PMGH and OHI have acted in the best interest of ourselves and our patients.”

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