THE FIRST Papua New Guinean recipient of a scholarship funded by ExxonMobil is making her way to Houston to carry out studies in public health.

Margaret Maipa Yagas will start a Masters in Public Health (MPH) at the University of Texas School of Public Health in September, supported by the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) Scholarship.

Included in the scholarship are pre-course studies and a certificate in a public health program, enabling Ms Maipa Yagas to make her way into the MPH program.

Her term as a medical social worker at the Port Moresby General Hospital has allowed Ms Maipa Yagas to experience some of the challenges faced by Papua New Guineans.

“The efficiency and availability of health and social work services is an area that needs attention,” she said.

The scholarship is an initiative from a public private partnership between ExxonMobil PNG, BIPAI, The National Department of Health and the University of Papua New Guinea’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

ExxonMobil PNG committed 8 million kina over two years to fund the partnership, designed to help improve the skills and education of local health workers.

It also contributed K54,800 to the Kikori District Hospital in the Gulf Province for its in-village tuberculosis (TB) screening and awareness program in July.

Support for the STOP TB campaign in Kikori-Gulf Province includes 30 life jackets for hospital staff to use during patrols by dinghy to villages and communities along the Kikori River.

ExxonMobil PNG deputy production manager Dale Pittman said education and health were two areas that ExxonMobil PNG was committed to supporting.

“Investing in the education of Papua New Guinean medical students and public health workers will help address the preventable health concerns faced in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“We are proud of the partnership which has seen organisations come together to achieve a common goal – improving health care in Papua New Guinea.”

As part of the partnership, experienced doctors from the United States have been placed in the Port Moresby General hospital to provide mentoring and training to medical students.

Almost 100 lectures have been delivered to more than 900 students at the University of Papua New Guinea and over 450 patients suffering from severe acute malnutrition were successfully treated and discharged from Port Moresby General Hospital.

The PNG LNG project is an integrated development that includes gas production and processing facilities, onshore and offshore pipelines and liquefaction facilities.

Participating companies include ExxonMobil, Oil Search, the National Petroleum Company of Papua New Guinea, Santos, JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration, the Mineral Resources Development Company and Petromin PNG Holdings.