Dr. Pilly Mapira is the president of the Public Health Association of Papua New Guinea and a Public Health Physician and Lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). She has had over 12 years of public health research and development experience including intermittent clinical practices in Papua New Guinea and abroad. Her research work not only produced the first scientific data on subclinical iodine deficiency among school children in PNG, but also advocated for the establishment of the first International Micronutrient Laboratory at the SMHS, UPNG and the first National Micronutrient Survey conducted in 2005 by the SMHS, National Department of Health, UNICEF and Centres for Disease Control.
As a medical student, Dr. Mapira did her rural health programs in the Gulf Province where she had to travel by canoe up the river for health patrols.
“I saw how difficult and remote it was for the people to access not only quality health care services but education and other essential services. Although I had a heart and passion for promoting primary health in rural areas, the topography, transport and communication barrier was a huge discouragement. But few years later in 2015, a documentary of Samaritan Aviation on the discovery channel, shocked me into tears. Tears rolled down my eyes as I saw this tiny sea plane and a group of American volunteers and families in the middle of nowhere saving lives and delivering medical supplies. I was not only moved by what I saw but truly challenged and ashamed as a Papua New Guinean. Since then, I told myself that if there is any way, and anything I can do to help Samaritan Aviation so that they can maintain their services or even extend to other parts of the country with such difficult topography, I would do whatever it takes. I am very happy and excited to be part of a team that can truly live up to its name.”