As soon as missions work started at various areas from both the highlands and coastal regions the missionaries saw the greatest need for health for the people, the entire population. Without any professional medical or nursing skills, the missionaries offered their skills and knowledge to helping the sick and needy. They would share God’s Divine Word of Salvation in the church and visit individual persons at home for their spiritual and health needs. Their homes even became health facilities when needed especially when locals brought their wounded for medical help after tribal fights. In those days, mothers who would go to see missionaries for health needs were malnourished as were their children who also had many other common childhood health problems.
It was reported that Malaria has been the main killer disease followed by Tuberculosis (TB), pneumonia, diarrhea infections, skin infections, malnutrition and wounds following tribal fights. Leprosy was also reported to be scattered in many areas of both the Highlands and Coastal region. Unfortunately, most of the people would blame the cause of ailments and deaths to sorcery and the traditional beliefs of evil spirits. This would provoke a lot of quarrels and fights among the people. Sadly, these traditional beliefs even exist today.
Nationals in the Health Work
In those early days, in many of these mission stations throughout the country there were number of nationals who were actively involved in health services. They were ordinary village men and women and were local-trained as village health aids by the missionary nurses. Some had the opportunity to further trained to become nurse aides under the Government’s Health Department and at mission nurse aide schools throughout the country. It was only by late 1970s and early 1980s, that nurses professionally trained at registered Nursing School and Colleges, came to join in the health workforce and services.
As of the year 2018, EBC Health Services has served PNG for 62 years. From the 1956 pioneer missionaries who with their village aides provided basic health services with very limited resources and sometimes in extremely trying conditions, the establishment of EBC Health Services was birthed. Today it continues to grow and serve the people of PNG.
EBC Health Services in PNG
Click each tabs below to read the histories for each of the provinces below…
The first Swiss Evangelical Brotherhood Missions (SEBM) missionaries came to Papua New Guinea on the 19th of October, 1954. Due to no roads linking the highlands highway, they flew to Madang and then to Minj. Minj was one of the rural districts under the Western Highlands Province then. Today Minj is the headquarters of the new Jiwaka Province since 2012 when Jiwaka separated from Western Highlands Province.
The missionaries arrived in Minj on the 8th of November, 1954. By 1957, the missions work had already spread from the Upper Highlands areas to the Lower Highlands areas in the Eastern Highlands Province and by 1965, the missions work also started reaching Lae, Morobe Province, at Six-Mile. The missions work further continued on to Sausi in the Madang Province by October 1966.
The prime purpose of coming was to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ that Papua New Guineans can accept and find salvation and eternal rest in Him .
In the year 1957, along with the mission work in Yauna, basic health services started from a small clinic house. By late 1970’s and early 1980’s, health sub-center buildings were erected. The first health services rendered included baby clinics, outreach clinics and outpatient services.
Establishment of other main health sub-centers followed thereafter, beginning with Tookena in 1967, Obura in 1970, Komperi in 1973, Yauna and Barabundora in 1980 and Kassam in 1981.
Among aid post becoming health sub-centers, Nompia aid post (since 1974) still remains one of the oldest aid post level facilities.
During 1980 – 2000, the Government of PNG and EBC Church, through the Churches Medical Council, started other health establishments throughout the province from Obura Wonenara, Kainantu, Henganofi, and Daulo Districts in the Eastern Highlands Province.
The following missionary nurses were pioneers in the start of EBC Health Centers as seen today at various mission stations:
- Gretel Klink – Barabundora,
- Traudel Klink – Obura,
- Susan Rosti – Tookena,
- Madlen Fluckiger – Komperi, a
- Susan Rupp – Kassam in the early 1990s
In 1974, health services started at Sausi in the Madang Province. Sr. Lydia Dangeli was the first missionary nurse to care for the sick and help mothers and children with malnutrition and malaria prevention.
During the 1990’s to 2000, other health facilities were established throughout the province in the Usino Bundi, Madang and Raicoast Districts.
By 1980 and towards 1990, there was a need for a clinic to help the Six-Mile EBC Bible College students. Therefore, the Bible College gave a small building and started seeing students who were sick. Soon the nearby population around Six-Mile came to seek help as well. The clinic has been opened for public ever since then. The clinic is very small, however, it is still seeing patients and provides a services level of a health sub-center but need expansion in future.
The two Sieka and Kusing aid post were started in early 1970’s in the Bush Markham area at the border of Eastern Highlands & Morobe. Since they were close to Tookena & Obura area, missionaries would continue to do routine patrols and visit them as often as they could.