CNN Interviews Mark Palm, Founder of Samaritan Aviation, About Efforts to Save Lives of Rural Villagers in Papua New Guinea

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Outbreaks, limited access to health care, tribal warfare are constant threats

In the United States, access to health care is usually just around the corner. A quick car ride is all that is required to reach urgent care or a hospital. In Papua New Guinea, without Samaritan Aviation, those living in remote villages along the East Sepik River may spend three to seven days paddling a canoe to reach the only hospital for over 30,000 square miles. After learning about Samaritan Aviation's efforts to save lives in Papua New Guinea, CNN invited Mark Palm for an interview to share the organization's story. (Watch the full interview here.)

Mark explained to CNN host, Isha Sesay, that over 220,000 people live along the 700-mile river in villages that can best be described as primitive. There is no electricity or plumbing, no roads, no grocery store. Diseases run rampant, with 80% of the population infected with Malaria and Cholera outbreaks occurring regularly. Family in-fighting and tribal warfare between neighboring villages often lead to brutal violence.

"It took 10 years to start Samaritan Aviation and bring our first floatplane to Papua New Guinea," said Palm. "Now we have saved hundreds of lives through hospital transport and countless thousands through the 140,000 pounds of medical supplies we have brought to the region. While our impact has been measurable, there is so much more that needs to be done to help."

Aid posts, run by various charity organizations, government and church missions, are spread along the river. But, they can provide only minimal care for minor ailments and wounds. The aid posts have no electricity, no refrigerators, and are often forced to close throughout the year. Samaritan Aviation is the lifeline between the aid posts and the outside world, keeping medical supplies stocked and moving trauma patients to the region's only hospital when needed.

In 2017, Samaritan Aviation transported 140 patients to the hospital via floatplane. Since beginning operations in 2010, over 700 lives have been saved via life flights, and thousands of others by providing villagers with vaccinations, antibiotics, anti-venom for snake bites and other basic medical supplies.

After retiring its first floatplane due to wear, Samaritan Aviation has been left with one floatplane in Papua New Guinea. The organization is fundraising for a second plane, so it can continue its life-saving operations in the event that one plane is down for maintenance. It can take weeks waiting on replacement parts, during which time Samaritan Aviation cannot respond to emergency calls and villagers are dying. To help Samaritan Aviation continue to provide life-saving flights and medical supplies to the villagers of Papua New Guinea, please donate at samaviation.com.

About Samaritan Aviation
Samaritan Aviation operates the only floatplanes in Papua New Guinea, the second largest island in the world. Samaritan Aviation currently serves in the East Sepik Province where the population is estimated at 500,000. Samaritan Aviation serves those living in the East Sepik through emergency evacuation flights, medicine delivery, disaster relief and community health programs. For more information, visit: http://samaviation.com.

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Laura Baumgartner

Bryan Yeager
Samaritan Aviation
970-249-4341
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