Young doctors follow on from Waugh challenge
Monday, 1 December 2003
Fresh from teaming up with Steve Waugh to help children suffering from leprosy in India, three University of Adelaide medical students will fly to Papua New Guinea next week to start their own aid project.
Jan-Paul Kwasik, 21, Andrew Perry, 23, and Young South Australian of the Year Matthew Hutchinson, 24 leave on Wednesday, December 10 to spend four weeks of their holidays working in Kompiam Hospital, based in PNG's remote highlands. Run by Australian doctor David Mills, the hospital services more than 40,000 people and faces chronic shortages of key medical supplies and staff.
In June this year, the three travelled to India through the assistance of Overseas Pharmaceutical Aid for Life (OPAL). There they met up with Australian cricket legend Steve Waugh at the Udayan Rehabilitation Centre and Orphanage Home (which is he patron of) to treat children suffering from leprosy and other serious ailments.
"Seeing what we did in India with Steve made us realise how great the need is and how much needs to be done to help people like this all over the world," Jan-Paul says. "However, we can only do so much ourselves. Since coming home from India, we've travelled across Australia speaking to medical student groups and doctors to raise awareness of the problems and how they can help."
For the PNG trip, the students are once again working closely with OPAL, an Adelaide-based charity which provides medicines to where they are needed most around the world, such as the recent tragedy in Bali. The three have spent the past six months gathering donations of medical supplies, and with the help of OPAL they will deliver a large consignment of aid to Kompiam Hospital.
"We've seen the impact OPAL's medicines had in India," Andrew says. "Our long-term goal is to see other Australian students and doctors visit these developing nations, where they can administer these medicines and help improve health and alleviate suffering."
For Matthew, the trip has special significance. "Having grown up in PNG, I've always felt a definite connection with the people and the country," Matthew says. "We know that PNG is not an overly safe place and that there are obvious risks involved in this type of work. But for us, we'd be taking a bigger risk sitting at home when we know others are suffering and there is something we can do about it."
Digital vision and still photography of Matthew, Jan-Paul and Andrew's trip to India is available upon request.
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Mr David Ellis
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