The Sumba Project trip 2017

This year The Sumba Project undertook their fourth annual trip to Sumba, this time accompanied by a group of four Griffith University film students who documented the trip for their graduation film. The trip is always a highlight of the year for the Sumba team, and many hours of hard work went in ahead of the trip. This year we had an exciting new opportunity to work with Dr Claus Bogh of the Sumba Foundation. Dr Bogh has been working in Sumba since 2004 and has set up a world-class malaria program on the island. He is now looking to branch into Tuberculosis (TB) education, prevention, and treatment and the Sumba crew has been recruited to help face this growing problem. There is also a great deal of taboo surrounding TB in the community and a lack of health literacy among locals.

One of the first steps in implementing a TB control is to have a solid diagnostic program. However, the diagnosis of TB is not straightforward in a resource poor setting like Sumba. The team prepared a five-day crash course on TB diagnosis, which was delivered to the staff at Dr Bogh’s malaria training centre. The course included the clinical aspects of TB diagnosis, microscopy and the treatment of TB. The course was well received by Dr Bogh and his team and the Sumba Project are now working diligently on an updated version. They also had the opportunity to speak directly with local health workers about the challenges of TB control on the island. These were truly eye-opening conversations and have helped to shape the work of The Sumba Project going ahead.

While on the island the group also visited remote villages to see first hand the impacts of the water projects set up by Surfaid Sumba. Surfaid have also established ‘nutrition gardens’ in the villages to address malnutrition. It was exciting to see the profound impact of these projects. For the newbies in the group these visits also offered a window into the traditional lifestyle and culture in Sumba. The island is a beautiful and unique place and it is always a privilege to help empower the locals to improve their health.

The Sumba Project is thankful for the ongoing support of HOPE4HEALTH and the Gold Coast Association of Postgraduates.