2023 Trip to Kupang and Soe

After a 4 year hiatus due to Covid, a small team was able to carry out an in-person visit to Kupang. Dr Smathi Chong, Dr Gill Marshman, Dr Helen Bradly, and Trish Green spent the time re-establishing relationships with various stakeholders. It was a busy time finalising MOU’s with the District Governor which will allow us to carry on our work in NTT, along with Undana University (Universitas Nusa Cendana) , and the Kupang Ministry of Health Polytechnic or Poltekkes (Politeknik Kesehatan Kemenkes Kupang). Various lectures were given at Undana University and the Poltekkes which were well received. Dr Gill Marshman spent time with the histopathology department and it was agreed to have an on-going collaboration for teaching and case discussions with the Pathology department at Flinders Medical Centre (FMC). This will occur through zoom meetings including FMC and Royal Darwin Hospital and the expectation is for quarterly real time meetings. Dr Marshman further met with the oncology team to discuss the development of integrated service planning to provide palliative care in the future and spent time with the dermatology team.

The microbiology laboratory has developed well, being chosen from only 5 laboratories nationally to participate in a US CDC collaboration with the Eijkman Institute for up-skilling staff. They have recently procured a -80C freezer allowing them to store ATCC strains, a CO2 incubator allowing them to isolate more fastidious organisms, and an autoclave. A Whole Genome Sequencing Laboratory had been put in place during Covid and they now have a dedicated microbiologist Dr Fidri Manongga. Whilst the team were on the ground, Infection Control practices were followed up on with the help of ZOOM meetings with Infection Control specialist Nurse Ann Whitfield from New Zealand.

A tour of the Red Cross Blood Transfusion unit ensued and they have asked for FOHG’s assistance to help with passing accreditation later this year and also help to become Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant in the near future.

It was pleasing to re-visit the new building wing from 2019 and see the Emergency Department up and running, which will closely be followed by theatres opening in a few weeks’ time.

The final part of the trip was very poignant and special for the team with triple celebrations occurring at the Muder Ignacia Hospital (RS Muder Ignacia) in Soe. They saw the opening of the Peter Scott Educational Building in memory of Dr Peter Scott who sadly passed away last year where nearly 30 family members and close work colleagues attended from almost all states in Australia, including Canberra where he worked. There was also the ’Stone laying’ Ceremony for the new Main Building to be built in the coming year and the 7th Anniversary of RS Muder Ignacia.

It was a busy week but the team left feeling they had accomplished a lot in a short space of time, and it was pleasing to see that things had in fact progressed despite the challenges brought on by Covid over the last few years.