More than 3,000 disability assessments have been conducted for communities along the Kokoda Track, providing treatment, interventions and referrals for people in the region.
Under the routine maternal and child health patrols, which are supported by the PNG-Australia Partnership through the Kokoda Initiative, Callan Services for Persons with Disabilities was able to conduct the assessments.
More than 1,300 people were subsequently treated or referred on, in order to address vision or hearing impairments – disabilities that are not always visible but have a big impact on people’s lives.
Callan’s program manager Peter Sindu said engagement with the communities made a significant impact for persons with disabilities living along the Kokoda Track.
“Many people received prescription glasses on the spot during our visit to 20 villages this year,” Mr Sindu said.
“General observations were done to identify the needs for other types of disabilities, accessibility and disability support services.”
“We have also identified people who need further examination and rehabilitation which we are working closely with the Kokoda Initiative to arrange for these people to get the support and care they need.”
Mr Sindu added that communities must recognise and accept people with disabilities.
“We observe the International Day for Persons with Disabilities to increase awareness, recognise their special needs and accept them for who they are,” he continued.
Callan also trained more than 50 village health volunteers to conduct disability assessments, including the identification of disabilities and detecting hearing and vision impairments.
The village health volunteers also learnt to make referrals for specialised examinations and to seek specific disability support services.
The achievements follow the success of a disability assessment pilot conducted in communities, schools and health centres in 2020.
The disability assessments and training were supported by the Kokoda Initiative – a partnership between PNG and Australia that is enhancing the quality of life for Kokoda Track communities.