As part of Australia's post-earthquake assistance to Papua New Guinea, an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) has travelled to Papua New Guinea to assist with health needs following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit the Highlands region on 26 February.
The UN estimates that 270,000 people in the Highlands require immediate humanitarian assistance, including more than 18,000 who are living in evacuation centres. An assessment by PNG authorities shows that 25 out of 77 health facilities in the two worst-affected provinces, Hela and Southern Highlands, have been destroyed or forced to close.
The 15-member AUSMAT team arrived in Papua New Guinea on 26 March and has deployed to Mendi Hospital in the Southern Highlands Province. These Australian doctors and nurses will work with Papua New Guinean health workers to provide emergency health services, including maternal and child health care, to those in need.
The specialists will also work with local health officials and humanitarian organisations to address public health issues and reduce the potential for disease outbreaks.
AUSMAT is one of the few national Emergency Medical Teams globally-verified by the World Health Organisation. The team going to PNG is drawn from state and territory-based health services including the Northern Territory, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. AUSMAT is coordinated by the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) in Darwin.
The support is in addition to $5 million in humanitarian support and the deployment of the ADF personnel and assets to assist in the response.
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