Sopas District Hospital in Wabag is located on the Highlands Highway, Enga Province of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Its elevation is 5,000 feet making it cool (non humid) all year round.
Because of its remoteness, and independent governance, it receives very little medical help from the rest of PNG. Sopas district hospital is 45 minutes drive on the Highlands Highway North West of Wapenamanda airport in Mondop. It is also 2 hours drive direct East of Kairik airport, Porgera.
The population of Enga Province is 250,000. Most of the population are subsistence farmers. Sopas District Hospital and Wabag General Hpspital are the two public hospital serving this entire population.
Dr Elvis Japhleth is the head surgeon (and only surgeon) at Sopas Hospital, Wanbag. He is quite accomplished in general, orthopaedic and urological surgery. He also has experience with laparoscopic surgery.
The hospital also has one surgical registrar Dr Max Pangali. There are two gynaecologists, Dr Antonia Kumbai and Dr Grace Raire. The director of medical services Dr Kanandro has had was previously an ENT registrar. The hospital has no urologist. There are no anaesthetists, but there are two Anaesthetic Scientific Officers (ASO), who provide general anaesthesia. The charge nurse is Rose Philip. There are 8 registered nurses.
All volunteer doctors must complete an application for temporary medical registration in PNG which needs to be witnessed and signed by a Justice of the Peace. In addition you will need to provide supporting documents (copy of cv, passport, driver’s license, degree, fellowship, medical indemnity, passport size photo, current medical registration, letter of current employment from your hospital,and a National Police Check (NPH). The National Police Check (NPH) can be applied for online with credit card payment of $42. The application takes 5 minutes, and the NPC is mailed to your nominated address within a fortnight. All these documents are then to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to Ms Florie Kapueina from the Medical Board of PNG Email Dr. Florie Kapueina for processing. Please allow at least two months for processing.
There is a single main operating theatre, equipped with laparoscopic surgery and a second minor operations room.
Currently there is one working anaesthetic machine although the automated belies has malfunctions and ventilation is done manually.
Plain xray, barium enema and ultrasound are available. There is no imag intensifier or CT.
There is no cystoscopy. Laparoscopy is available but due to recent equipment failure only gastroscopy & colonoscopy are currently not available. This is currently one of the biggest needs that DAISI has identified at this hospital.
DAISI staff receive free accommodation and meals on site at Sopas District hospital in a self-contained 3 bedroom house on stilts
A lot of the concerns about tribal fighting are over exaggerated. The tribal fights, when they occur, do not involve non tribal people, and the hospital compound is considered a “tribal warfare free zone”. The hospital compound has a perimeter barb wire fence and security guard at the entrance 24 hours. DAISI has a Memorandun of Understanding with the Enga Provincial Health Authority (EPHA). In this regard, EPHA guarantee the protection of DAISI volunteers to Sopas District Hospital. It is recommended that all DAISI volunteers fly directly to Wapenamanda Airport and be picked up from the Wapenamanda airport by head surgeon Dr Elvis Japhlet and his registrar Dr Max Pangali. This 30 minute trip by convoy (two Toyota 4-wheel drive) to Sopas District Hospital is very safe.
Sopas District hospital in Wabag is located 30 minutes (sealed road) drive North-West on the Highlands Highway from Wapenamanda airport in Mondop or 2 hours (rough dirt road) drive from Mt Hagen (Kagamuga) airport.
Wapenamanda Airport located just outside of Mondop is right next to the Highlands Highway.
Wapenamanda airport, Mondop (elevation 5,000 feet)
Air Niugini and Airlines of Papua New Guinea both provide flights from Port Moresby that depart in the morning (usually 8:45am and 10:30am). Flights to Wapenamanda airport require an overnight stay in Port Moresby, but direct return flight with only 1 hour stay at Port Moresby are available.
Mt Hagen Airport (elevation 5,388 feet)
The much larger Mt Hagen (Kagamuga) airport is 2 hours drive on. Rough bumpy party unsealed road from Sopas District Hospital. This airport is also right next to the Highlands Highway. Mt Hagen (Kagamuga) airport has a hanger for safe keeping of smaller planes. It has 3 direct flights from Port Moresby every day. Air Niugini flights from Brisbane depart daily with a 85-150 minute stop over in Port Moresby.
Kairik airport, Porgera is the other option. This landing is not for the faint-hearted and it is a treacherous 3 hours drive from Sopas District Hospital.
Kairik airport, Porgera. (Elevation 7,280 feet)
Air Nuigini operates daily services to Mt Hagen airport from Port Moresby with larger Fokker 100 aircraft. Smaller planes (Dash 8 & twin otter) are able to land at Wapenamanda airport.