Band-aids and Healthcare in PNG


Oh Friday – beautiful Friday, should be thinking good thoughts and giving out good vibes but all I can think of is:

The look of illness. Sometimes you actually feel sicker just from looking at filth and hopelessness.

You walk into Port Moresby General Hospital and the first you notice is how unclean, how unhygienic and dirty everywhere looks. The benches, to the hospital equipment, the floors and let’s not even mention the state of the amenities!

You walk into Angau Memorial Hospital, Boram General Hospital, Modilon General Hospital - same story, only difference is they are greener. Most of the countries major health centers and the aid posts/clinics are even sadder looking. Most of them are shut down due to lack of qualified professionals to run it and/or adequate medication.

If you haven’t already given up and decided it’s safer to just go home and let your body try healing itself, you step into this myriad of confusion. First things first – where are the doctors or health extension officers (or whatever they’re calling them these days!)? You get told that the doctor is out and nobody has any idea where s/he’s gone to or when s/he’ll be back.

So you have to deal with a nursing officer. Most times they’re pretty efficient in dispensing the right diagnosis and medication but there are times when they get it wrong. And let’s face it – it’s not their fault because they aren’t trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of symptoms, it’s not their job.

All these things are especially disheartening when you’re baby is sick. You know they’re unwell but because they can’t tell you where it hurts or what they feel – you rely on the professionals to sort it out for you.

Anger, hopelessness, frustration and sadness. That’s what the state of the public health system is like at the moment in PNG.

Then you hear that some organization (mineral extraction, agricultural, telecommunication, banking, non-governmental, not for profit) has put in such and such an amount. So they become like demi-gods or saviors or the equivalent!

The people are ever so grateful, thankful and want to throw huge kaikais and singsings for them.

Frustrating fact is most times they can stop us from getting sick in the first place. But no! They want to cover three bases (make the government look bad to the people, make the government indebted to them, make excellent PR) with these flimsy Band-Aids.

How about we stop putting money into bringing in money and we start investing it in the one thing that will no doubt make money – the people of Papua New Guinea!