Left to right: Dr Max Pangai, Dr Adelene Ong, Dr Jessica Lim, Dr Timothy Pyaku, Dr Elvis Japhlet, Mr Mark Taffa and Dr Matt Rickard at Sopas Hospital, Enga Province, Highlands, PNG. 

This one week trip was organised by General Surgeon Dr Elvis Japhleth, who is the medical director and head surgeon at Sopas District Hospital in the PNG Highlands.

It was the fourth DAISI visit to the PNG Highlands, on the request of the CEO for Enga Health Provincial Authority (EHPA) Mr Aron Luai and Dr Elvis Japhlet.

Anaesthetists Dr Adelene Ong and Dr Jessica Lim departed Sydney Saturday 3rd August, and arrived Wapenamanda 10:15am Sunday morning where they were be met by Dr Elvis Japhlet and driven to Sopas Hospital.  Although Elvis himself had pneumonia he drove himself to the airport personally to pick up the volunteers.


Dr Elvis Japhlet with intravenous cannula for antibiotics waits at Wapenamanda airport to pick up DAISI Team. 

The main emphasis of this trip was to provide anaesthetic training and support to the two Anaesthetic Scientific Officers (ASOs) Mr Tom Wapulo and Ms Ronnie Kaum.


Left to right: Noreen Jones, Rose Philip, Dr Adelene Ong, Mr ??, Dr Max Pangali, Mr TomWapulo, Dr Jessica Lim teaching regional anaesthesia under ultrasound guidance. 

The other emphasis of this trip was to teach basic laparoscopic surgery and Colorectal surgery skills to Dr Elvis Japhlet, Dr Timothy Pyaku, and Dr Max Pangali, building on skills taught previously by colorectal Surgeons Dr Gary McKay, Dr Carina Chow and Prof Christophe Berney.


DAISI anaesthetists Dr Adelene Ong (left) and Dr Jessica Lim (right) with anaesthetic Scientific Officers (ASOs) Ronnie “Roxie” Kaum and Tom Wapulo teaching doppler techniques. 

Local surgeons Dr Elvis Japhlet and Dr Timothy Pyaku, from Sopas and Wabag hospital had a number of complex cases prepared that required more complex general anaesthesia than that normally conducted at Sopas Hospital which were done in the first half of the visit as well as a number of laparoscopic cases which were done in the second half of the visit once Dr Matt Rickard arrived.

The emphasis in the second half of the visit was to teach Dr Japhplet, Dr Pyaku and Pangali laparoscopic surgery.

Visiting colorectal surgeon Dr Matt Rickard arrived Mount Hagen 5pm Wed 7th August where he will was met by the hospital ambulance and driven by 4wD to Sopas.

Dr Rickard participated in laparoscopic surgery Thursday and Friday 8th and 9th August.

The last day of surgery began with Grand Round presentations.


Grand Rounds at Sopas Hospital on Friday 9th August 2019. 


Dr Matt Rickard finding novel use for a mop during education session on bowel cancer. 


Anaesthetist Dr Jessica Lim, giving talk on anaesthetic considerations for major abdominal surgery. 

This was was followed by all day surgery.


Dr Max Pangali and Dr Matt Rickard doing open bowel resection for obstructing cancer. 

Meanwhile mumu was being prepared.


Hospital staff preparing Mumu in celebration of DAISI trip .

Mark Taffa, the DAISI PNG Program officer and DAISI’s biomedical expert, also attended this trip, with planned maintenance and repairs to existing equipment. Electrical power outages were a problem this trip, along with the sterilising machine breaking down. These both limited the number of cases done.

mark taffa fixing steriliser

Biomedical technician and PNG DAISI Program officer Mark Taffa fixing the sterilising device at Sopas Hospital. 

Mark has also been instrumental in setting up the laparoscopic unit at Sopas Hospital, organising carbon dioxide for laparoscopic insufflation, and other vital equipment for this trip.


Dr Adelene Ong, with Hon Dr Tom Lino (local member for parliament) and DAISI PNG Program Officer Mr Mark Taffa.

Mark Taffa has already organised deliver of two shipping containers with surgical equipment to Sopas this year with the third shipping container due to depart later this month.


Mark Taffa watches on as Mumu is prepared.

The other main attraction of this trip, was to experience the Wabage Cultural festival held on Saturday 10th August.


Dr Matt Rickard at the Enga festival with a very lively necklace. 


Dr Jessica Lim with a traditional warrier from Lagaip-Porgera district of Enga province. The yellow is usually made from clay called ambua, and contrasts against a fiercely bright red made from red ochre clay that is used to paint their facial hair. It’s said to possess the wearer with fearlessness.


Even the women without facial hair have red beards painted giving them a more masculine and fierce appearance. 


Dr Matt Richard also receives the “fearlessness” red and yellow facial painting typically worn by the Huli Wigmen.


Dr Adelene Ong with the more subdued black  charcoal facial painting only around the eyes most commonly worn by Suli Muli dancers of Enga Province. 


Mark Taffa receives the traditional black charcoal face painting of the Suli Muli.


This young Suli Muli dancer’s ornamental headpiece  and necklace is made of Kina shells, which come from the coastal regions of Papua New Guinea.  Kina shells are highly praised in the Highlands. 


These Enga Province Suli Muli dancers wear large head pieces made from human hair, with birds of paradise feathers attached ornamentally. They also wear Kina shell necklaces.


Above is a red clay-clad Suli Muli dancer unique to Enga Province. Wearing a traditional grass skirt, holding the kundu drum, and wearing the large black round headpiece made of human hair. Black paint around the eyes like a “zorro mask” is traditionally done using  Digaso oil produced by the kara’o tree. This viscous black oil is mixed with charcoal and plant dyes. 


The women here rhythmically jumping up and down in unison to the beat of the kundu drums singing the  “Suli Muli”. 


Suli Muli women wear giant hats made of moss and plant fibres. The white body paint a white pigmented clay sometimes mixed with pig fat or tree oil mbagwa. 


The full bodied white painting is more typical of the Asaro Mudmen from Eastern Highlands of Goroka.


This Enga woman and her daughter wear the bilums: netted head pieces that are not just ornamental, but very practical, providing shade from the sun as well as being used as carry bags. 

This trip Mark Taffa travelled his own way home via Lae to organise future shipment of supplies to Sopas Hospital, with a third shipping container making its way to Sopas hospital later this month full of donated surgical equipment.

DAISI would like to give special special thanks to Dr Elvis Japhlet and all the lovely staff at Sopas Hospital. In particular the operating theatre nurse manager sister Rose Philip, nurse Anna Japhlet & Noreen John and all the Sopas District Hospital nursing staff who worked tirelessly making this trip possible.


Left to right: Smiley, Jessica Lim, Adelene Ong, Mark Taffa, Rose Philip, & Matt Rickard.

Special thanks to Dr Elvis Japhlet who hosted the DAISI team, and despite having pneumonia made the 8 hour return trip to drop the DAISI team off at Mount Hagen Airport.

departure at mt hagen

Dr Adelene Ong, Dr Elvis Japhlet, Dr Matt Rickard and Dr Jessica Lim at the departures, Mount Hagen Airport. 


Thank you tribute VIDEO  from Dr Elvis Japhlet


10 patients screened

4 operations performed:
1 minor (laparoscopic)
2 major (laparoscopic)
0 minors (open)
1 majors (open