Well we finally got there! Day One of the Autonomous Bougainville Government's Health Summit was conducted on Monday 20 July 2009, almost nine months after we first began planning for it.
The Division of Health has done a great job of organising the venue, I was very impressed. Name tags, seating numbers and stationary folders, a media and secretariat desk, microphones and overhead projector for presentations were all sorted. The participants seemed to be either very excited or very serious, such were the expectations amongst those gathered here. I was just stoked that the day had finally come!
Day One's presentations went very well, and there was good debate amongst the participants about the issues raised. Highlight was probably the domestic violence agenda, which got added at the last minute. Fellow VSA volunteer Lesley Young and Helen Harkena, the head of her host organisation, presented on the topic and fielded the many questions. The debate was very emotive, with one participant breaking down in tears as she recounted the stories of patients she has treated. All that resulted in a commitment by the CEO of Health to place domestic violence on the health agenda. Good stuff.
Only quibble is the lack of staff in attendance from Port Moresby, however I gather this is due to the staff taking too long to send out the invitations…ah well. I reminded them again and again about that but in the end I had to step back and let them learn it for themselves. More on that later.
All in all a great start to the Summit!