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Bougainville Healthy Communities Programme

The project is helping to establish health care programmes in local communities so that families can take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.

Since 1999, the Leprosy Mission New Zealand has been supporting the development of a successful community health programme in Bougainville.

 The project is helping to establish health care programmes in local communities so that families can take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. To date, programmes have been well established in 12 out of 13 districts in Bougainville.

"Leprosy is still an issue in Bougainville and it is very important that communities are aware of its causes and consequences", says Matt Halsey, Programme Committee Member of Leprosy Mission New Zealand.

"Through the community health programme we are educating families about the signs and symptoms of the disease, and making sure they know where to go to get treatment and support."

Nineteen district facilitators regularly travel to remote villages where they train and monitor village health volunteers, who are then responsible for providing health education in their communities. Volunteers raise awareness about diseases such as leprosy and malaria, identify villagers who are ill, and refer people to district health clinics for diagnosis and treatment. Since the project began, more than 2,500 village health volunteers and 2,100 village leaders have been receiving training on community health development, leadership and governance.


The goal of this project is healthier Bougainville communities through villages and government sharing responsibility for health awareness and community development. Project training directly imparts knowledge on how people can take responsibility to live in a healthy environment and change their own lives. It is the dynamic transformation of how people think and view themselves that is sustainable.

This project has had a significant impact on the overall health of rural Bougainvilleans. An increased proportion of babies are now being born under supervised situations, and mothers are now attending antenatal clinics. There has also been a reduced number of leprosy and malaria cases, and an increased proportion of communities are now having access to a safe water supply.

Moreover, it has been regularly noted, by senior local and central government leaders, and in project reporting, that the project activities are having a significant impact on village governance, community development, social empowerment and peace-building. The project is also having a substantial impact on helping rural Bougainvilleans to overcome the influence of the conflict.

It is expected that by 2018, there will be a sustainable village-based health programme being fully established across all 880 rural villages, with most of Bougainville’s 240,000 people being able to access trained Village Health Volunteers in their own village.


"Most proud – people concerned about their health, village beautification, the mind set change….. I heard some people from Rabaul comment how there was a lack of mosquitoes. This project is bringing people up to a higher standard of living. I feel involved, the project encourages participation. I have learnt and built up my capacity," says Lilian Nurse and DF Buin, District Facilitators in Bougainville.


The impact of the project is expected to grow, the changes in community behaviours will continue to bed in, and the project activities in each village will continue to develop, as has already been happening in many villages.       

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