Deakin University

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Specialist surgical training in Papua New Guinea: the outcomes after 10 years

journal contribution
posted on 2006-10-01, 00:00 authored by I Kevau, David WattersDavid Watters
Surgical training commenced in 1975, the year that Papua New Guinea (PNG) gained independence. The training involves a 4-year programme leading to a Master of Medicine (MMed), awarded by the University of Papua New Guinea. In the past 30 years just over 50 general surgeons have graduated. There have also been 9 graduates in the area of ear nose and throat, 10 in ophthalmology and 2 in oral surgery. The subspecialization of general surgeons began in 1994 with four trainees, two orthopaedic, one head and neck and one urological. The model used was to develop specialist skills over 2-3 years only qualified (MMed) general surgeons so that their ability to carry out general surgical procedures and work in a remote hospital was not lost. The different specialties required different balances of in-country and out-of-country training depending on the local ability to provide training in PNG. An important sponsor has been the PNG National Department of Health, which has funded the training posts by using existing general surgical positions and covering the loss of manpower while surgeons are training overseas, sometimes for up to 2 years. Medical education and tertiary health service projects, funded by Aus-Aid, have also contributed significantly to the teaching and training. These projects have provided visiting specialists to teach and hospital attachments for national surgeons to train in Australasia. Various individual surgeons and their specialist societies in Australasia have also provided invaluable support. Three surgeons have been recipients of the Rowan Nicks scholarship. Twelve surgeons have been awarded a specialist diploma and a further five are in training. The posting of national specialist surgeons to Port Moresby has resulted in all modules of the General surgery MMed programme being taught by Papua New Guineans, which would have been hard to imagine back in 1993. The MMed is now a sustainable programme and can be provided without external support. National surgeons carry out a wide range of specialist procedures, formerly carried out only by visiting teams. They are also able to make outreach visits within PNG and specialist visits to neighbouring Pacific Island countries.



ANZ journal of surgery






937 - 941




Milton, Qld.







Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2006, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons