Hydroflux Epco supports sustainable healthcare in remote PNG

February 16, 2021

Sustainability is rarely an easy road to travel and Hydroflux Epco’s latest sewage treatment project, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), is a textbook case of determination and persistence to bring sustainable health care to the country’s second most rugged province.

At the Wabag hospital site in the PNG rainforests of Enga, sustainable health care is about bringing medical treatment within range of the population, offering services and facilities that meet a broad range of patient needs whilst treating resultant hospital wastewater to a standard that will protect villagers and the environment downstream of the intensive medical facility. Paul Cobbin, Hydroflux Epco’s General Manager of Solutions, has been working with various stakeholders including the Enga Provincial Government Engineer since 2013 to assist with the development of the Wabag hospital project.

“Many of us take health care for granted. Why wouldn’t you when there is a clinic in every local shopping centre, but before the Wabag facility, Engan patients had to drive up to five hours to the neighboring province for treatment” Mr Cobbin says, comparing Australian health care with the Engan experience.

At an altitude of 2000 meters, in a province with an area of 11,704km2, the Wabag hospital is the only hospital at the end of the 700-kilometer highlands highway in a region susceptible to earthquakes and landslides. Self-sustainability is critical when the only supply route gets cut regularly for days and sometimes weeks.

To be self-sustainable, the campus built by GDFC PNG Ltd has operating theatres, day patient clinics, wards for extended stays, commercial kitchen facilities and laundry plus a mortuary and staff accommodation in villas within the security of the vast mountainside site. As well as hospital facilities the site has its own natural water source, a Hydroflux sewage treatment plant (STP) for processing of sewage and a solid waste processing facility.

The live-in hospital campus generates significant sewage waste and without effective treatment a hospital site such as Wabag could not exist.

The Hydroflux Epco solution was designed as a complete turnkey solution to reduce environmental impact and be scalable to allow for growth in the hospital capacity as future development of the site continues. From a technical perspective, the Hydroflux Epco solution included screening to remove non-treatable matter, biological treatment using a Moving Bed Bioreactor, tertiary treatment for improved effluent quality as well as sludge handling to dewater the sludge on campus for further composting and reforestation of local jungle.

“Getting to the starting line of the Wabag project has been an exciting journey with many stakeholder meetings along the way but sustainable infrastructure takes time to develop and Hydroflux continues with determination to be part of the solution in a world constantly under pressure” says Mr Cobbin.

Creating sustainable health care means building a facility that meets the needs of the region without compromising the environment or the future of villagers living nearby. The Wabag hospital meets the challenge by bringing medical care closer to the population and using the Hydroflux Epco sewage treatment solution to reduce impact of the facility on the local environment.

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