The Rural School of the School of Medicine and Health Science

July 11th this year the Rural School branch of the School of Medicine and Health Science (UPNG) was officially launched. The Rural School is incorporated as part of the Kompiam District Hospital in Enga. Sitting down with Dr David Mills later that month he shared how this dream of a medical school based at a rural health facility began 6 or 7 years ago. He had set aside some land and proposed the project to the dean of the School of Medicine and Health Science, UPNG. However, it took some time and after about 4 years of planning then 2 years of construction the rural school was formally opened.

Official Opening Ceremony

The first group of 8 students arrived in June to complete the remaining components of their final year of medical school. These last two components of their training consist of Maternal and Child Health as well as Rural Health. Their colleagues remain in Port Moresby at the Medical Faculty, Taurama Campus. For these 7 students being situated at Kompiam already fulfils the ‘rural health’ component and the maternal plus child health module will be completed through rural patrols to neighbouring health centres as well as participating in the well-baby and maternal health static clinic at the Kompiam Hospital.

MBBS 5 UPNG Students

The students were not chosen at random, but each requested to go and were selected from the multiple essay applications. 2024 will see the first group of 5th year medical students who will complete the entirety of their final year of medical training at the rural school. Much like the traditional schooling format the students have access to didactic teaching as well as the classroom experience however this will now be provided via Wi-Fi from the Medical Faculty. They will have the same classes and teaching as their colleagues but instead of urban clinics and PMGH based medicine these students will experience and contribute to the health and wellbeing of the rural population of Kompiam district. They will learn what rural health in Papua New Guinea actually comprises of, and see the strength of will and resourcefulness that is required to provide quality health care to all our people of Papua New Guinea.

Study station for Students
Wi-fi classroom – set up for lectures
Conference facility


Dr Hogande Kiafuli presenting the Recommendations of Rural Hospital Design to Deputy Secretary Dr Lenturut

In 2022 PNG Rural and Remote Health Society annual symposium theme was Rural Hospital Design – Should There Be A Minimum Standard? 

The symposium which took place in September last year had speakers from various rural hospitals throughout the country share their experience of their individual hospital design successes, flaws and lessons learnt.  The islands perspective was shared by Dr Siaol Panta based on Misima Island, the highlands view from Dr David Mills of Kompiam and the coastal insight from Dr Valerie Archer based at Kapuna. Dr Ambrose Kwaramb, the Manager for Building and Facility Standards of the National Department of Health opened the meeting giving the national position in terms of healthcare facilities infrastructure standard, planning, design, delivery and sustainability.  We gleaned an international viewpoint from guest speaker Dr John Oomen, the medical superintendent of Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack and his 30yrs experience working in the rural and remote communities in India.

Dr Ambrose Kwaramb, Manager for Building and Facility Standards, National Department of Health
Dr Sialo Panta, MMed Rural Medicine Registrar, based at Misima Island
Dr Valerie Archer, Medical Director, Kapuna District Hospital, Kapuna, Gulf Province
Mr Marshall McKean, Project Manager of Kapuna Hospital Rebuild. Presenting via Zoom.

These talks set the stage for the interactive discussion between the society members as well as the non-members who were themselves past or current practitioners in rural hospitals; as to what is and how should a rural hospital in Papua New Guinea be designed.  These thoughts were complied into – Principles of Rural Hospital Design, Recommendations on NHS Design Standards, and presented to Dr Lenturut of the National Department of Health on 2nd June during the National Health Service Standards conference in Mt Hagen.