“Dr. Ambi” as she is affectionately known to the people of PNG, has laboured with determination in creating innovative methods in delivering quality Mental Health Services in our nation. Her pursuit to mental health service excellence had driven her to embark on a maiden voyage to cause a Mental Health Reform in PNG.
She began her academic career by first graduating in First Class Honours in B.Sc.(Chemistry) in India in 1984. In her zeal to scale higher in her professional life, Dr. Umadevi Ambihaipahar completed her M.B.B.S. from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in 1990. She continued her academic quest by pursuing her desire in becoming a psychiatrist from the UPNG so that her contribute towards mental health in our society is authentic. Her graduation success had hailed her as the first female psychiatrist in PNG.
Dr.Ambi is the Principal Advisor to the Government for Social Change and Mental Health Services. She holds an additional responsibility as the Principal Officer in Charge for pioneering the Traditional Medicine Office in PNG. In the development of human capital resources, Dr. Ambi had since 1999, held this responsibility by being the Head of Psychiatry and Post-Graduate Coordinator (honorary lecturer) in Psychiatry in the School of Medical Sciences Faculty in under UPNG. It is well documented that she had trained more than ten psychiatrists during this period from PNG, Solomon Island and East Timor.
My colleague, being in her elements as a medical specialist, conducted herself innovatively and creatively. She synergised the use of High Frequency Wireless Technology in reaching the ‘bush’ on good mental health practices, general advices on treatments and providing general training for the health care fraternity that resides far and wide. Dr. Ambi is unequivocal to the general expression that she “is the face associated with what good mental health is” in our nation. This is more than ever evident from her audience whom read the popular “Ambi’s Mind Watch” articles in the daily newspapers, radio “chit-chats” and also watching her on the regular national television series known by the masses as “Haus & Home” and “Beautiful Mind” programs which gets aired weekly. She focuses on good mental health practices, motivations on values, purposes & acceptable quality of life.
Today, Dr. Ambi is an outspoken person when it comes to stigmatisation and discrimination with mentally disabled individuals. Her networking instincts and capacity to relate with media and society is unparallel. She represents PNG on many International forums with unquestionable distinction.
“Ambi” is presently a Board Member to the Power of Mercy Board (PNG), PNG Medical Board member and the Catholic Health Services Board. She is a devout naturalised citizen with outstanding local knowledge and impeccable experience in the field she is specialised in. For her relentless services to the society she inherited, the Government of PNG recommended her to the Queen of England to bestow on her the ‘Order of the British Empire (OBE)’ for her service towards mental health services, traditional medicine services and community. We, as the PNG Psychiatric Association, have been honoured by this award by the government of the day for the services rendered. She is , to many of us citizens, an amazing, extraordinary, socio-cultured and religious individual whom have been an inspiration to all that come to her. She is always prepared to take that extra step to cause a change in the quality of life in anyone whom seeks her ‘touch’. Simply, she is invariably the voice of the “Mental Health wellness” of Papua New Guinea.
Dr. Monica Hagali
PNG Psychiatrist Association