Listen on Spotify as a podcast: TB + Photovoice in Papua New Guinea with Agnes Mek and Paula Jops
Ms Agnes K Mek is a social scientist & retiree, currently residing in her village, Jiwaka Province of Papua New Guinea. Agnes holds an MA in Communication and Social Change (University of Goroka) and a Bachelor of Business in Human Resource Management (Queensland University of Technology). She has been affiliated with the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) since 2006, where she conducted social and behavioural research with Scientia Associate Professor Angela Kelly-Hanku. Agnes has coordinated and conducted qualitative and mixed-methods research in health, sexuality, sexual reproductive health and development, working across general and hard to reach populations living in challenging geographical locations to cities. Agnes started using Photovoice in 2014 for her postgraduate thesis and has since trained research participants living with HIV; gender based violence; COVID-19; resource extraction and more recently, with tuberculosis. Since 2017, she has been involved with tuberculosis training and action research and capacity building of different cadres of health workers drawn from provincial health authorities and hospitals in Port Moresby and Daru Island, Papua New Guinea.
Dr. Paula Jops is a Research Fellow within the Global Health Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney. She has a cross-disciplinary background in anthropology, development studies, and public health. Paula has conducted research in Australia, Papua New Guinea, India, and Thailand. Her research interests include infectious diseases and health inequalities among vulnerable groups, and she has worked on projects related to tuberculosis, HIV, cervical screening, and sexual and gender-based violence. She is currently working on a National Health and Medical Research Council funded project, ‘Understanding the socio-cultural dimensions of tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea: knowledge to optimise public health solutions’.
Paula is new to arts-based research methods and received training in photovoice from colleagues at the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR). Recently, Paula and the social and behavioural research team from PNGIMR conducted a week-long photovoice workshop with people on treatment for tuberculosis in Daru, Papua New Guinea. Over twenty participants reflected on and documented their experiences with tuberculosis, along with their beliefs on how to stop the spread of tuberculosis in Daru.