From 'disease trap' to a medical aid post of excellence

A boy in Papua New Guinea washes his hands using a Tippy Tap outside a medical aid post

A young student washes their hands using a tippy tap at school in Dimiri (World Vision PNG)


In Dimiri village, a remote community of Papua New Guinea in South Fly District, Western Province, the health care facility - a medical aid post - had developed an unenviable reputation. With just two staff, no water supply, and no handwashing facilities or toilet, locals described it as a 'disease trap' that they would visit for treatment only to leave with another illness.


The community of Dimiri also had very poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. With a population of more than 500, only two households had toilets, and none had hand washing facilities. Open defecation was common and diarrheal disease rife.


But with support from World Vision through their Water for Women WASH Voices for Empowerment project, the community was introduced to the Healthy Islands concept and community-led total sanitation, known as CLTS, resulting in almost 100% of households, the school and medical aid post now having toilets and handwashing facilities. This work is supported by the Australian Government.


I am pleased and thankful [that World Vision] came into my community and supported us to mobilise the community to take ownership and responsibility” says Baram, a community health worker. "...I have seen great changes through this program."


Health workers were trained on infection control and prevention measures, and provided with N95 face masks, gloves, and information, education and communication materials. Water systems, handwashing facilities and toilets were built, along with an incinerator for disposal of infectious waste. Three colour-coded medical waste bins also now ensure medical waste is appropriately sorted and disposed of.


“I took my children to the aid post for medication, I was requested to wash my hands and wear mask before entering the aid post building. It was a kind of practices that we have never experienced before in this community. I have since visited the aid post to get more information on COVID-19 and continued to wash my hands before I entered the aid post building and it became my habit,” said mother of two, Medlin.


Papua New Guinea's 8.5 million people are among those with the least access to safe water supply globally. This situation is exacerbated for people living in rural areas, where around only 33% have access to safe water and just 13% to basic sanitation


Water for Women is partnering with World Vision to improve access to gender and socially inclusive, sustainable WASH in PNG, especially for women, girls and people with disabilities in marginalised communities. By December 2022, this project aims to directly benefit approximately 40,000 people living in Middle Fly District and South Fly District.


Learn how Water for Women partners are uniting for universal hand hygiene across the Asia-Pacific in our latest learning brief on Handwashing Behaviour Change

A blue graphic with the words 'Just launched' and a thumbnail of the cover of a HWS learning Brief

Healthy communities start with healthy hands! This Global Handwashing Day - and every day - Water for Women joins the call for universal hand hygiene through inclusive and sustainable WASH services and systems. Without it, we can’t achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation for all - upon which all 17 goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development rely.

As we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic - a time when heightened hand hygiene helped to protect us all - let's not lose the momentum. Now is the time to unite for universal hand hygiene, and to ensure sustainable WASH access for all.


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