Kingston poses in the classroom with fellow participants of the Australia Awards PNG Health Economics program.

Walking around campus, your mind focused on assignments, it is easy to forget that each of the faces you pass holds a story. Each of us has travelled unique journeys to make it to today. Yet, despite having travelled different paths, we have all arrived here at Griffith University intending to push ourselves, expand our skills, and to discover where our journey will lead.

Just one of those remarkable faces amongst the roughly 50,000 students is Kingston Namun from Papua New Guinea. Kingston is currently undertaking a Graduate Certificate in Health Economics through the Australia Awards, which is investing in PNG’s current and future leaders and is funded by the Australian Government. Throughout his time in Australia, Kingston has impressed his lecturers and colleagues with his dedication, knowledge and academic drive.

A lecturer in Health Management and Systems Development at PNG’s Divine Word University, Kingston decided to apply for the Australia Awards program as it provided him with an opportunity to acquire the skills needed to empower his students, whom he believes are the future health managers of PNG.

Kingston says that his passion for improving health services in PNG was reinforced in 2018 as he viewed the system from the other side when he sadly lost his partner to cancer.

Kingston working alongside his mentor, Dr Stephen Law.

“In 2018, I lost my partner to cancer. She was just 34 years old. When someone gets told that their life expectancy has been shortened, the news doesn’t just devastate that person but everyone in the family and the community as well,” he says.

“Thinking back to the first detection, screening, trying treatments and then to palliative care, I was with her throughout it all. I guess I never want anyone to go through what we went through, so making health systems and processes work better in the PNG health system is something I am keen on.

“It is what motivates me to study during my time here at Griffith because I know that what I learn will go a long way in making sure Papua New Guineans get better access to health care and health services too. There are so many people in the PNG health system who are dedicated and want to see improvement and change so that health outcomes for Papua New Guineans become better than what they are today.”

Kingston and fellow participants from the Australia Awards PNG program explore Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands.

Kingston is currently studying alongside 23 other participants from PNG who are busy developing independent projects focused on different areas of interest within the PNG health system, with his focusing on ‘decision making among health managers at the subnational level’.

“The Postgraduate Certificate in Health Economics opened my eyes to the various health economic theories, economic evaluations, technology assessments and cost assessments that could be applied in the PNG health system. My research is still a work in progress but ultimately I want to focus on the factors that influence decision making.

“Many health managers at the provincial and district level in PNG work in low resource settings so making decisions about how resources are allocated efficiently can mean the difference between whether a mother gives birth at a health facility or dies giving birth in her village.

“It’s those decisions that eventually lead to health outcomes so making choices is so important as people’s lives are at stake. So my research is trying to understand what factors influence or have an impact on the decisions that are being made by health managers in the PNG health system.”