Social Concerns Notes – June 2015

New Act to protect children

Post Courier, June 09, 2015

THE new Lukautim Pikinini Act passed by Parliament last Friday will hold parents accountable for neglecting their parental responsibilities and allowing others to raise their children. The Act will also protect and verify mushrooming of childcare homes throughout the country, as many people want to make easy money on the pretext of setting up such centres. Minister for Community Development Delilah Gore said in her statement that there were many such orphanage homes mushrooming throughout the country to make money, and therefore the Act will also look at appointing inspectors who will verify and approve all childcare centres based on their performances and other prerequisites to qualify as a childcare centre. She said the Act also involves the creation of provincial child and family service committee who will help in protecting the welfare of children in the country.

She said every child needs protection and the child and family service committee will identify genuine children who will be called ‘Child of State’ if the child is really parentless.

Gore said the Lukautim Pikinini Act is basically drafted to protect and safeguard the rights of the Children. She said too many children were forced to live on the streets and that has been a major concern and the Act will have the parents responsible and accountable for their actions.

Among some of those children are the young children who are forced to look for money and food, begging on the streets in major towns and cities. The Act has been described as a big step in protecting young children and their rights to live a good life. The Bill was supported by all members of Parliament (73-0).

Juffa: Child sex trade real

Post Courier, June 09, 2015

CHILD sex trade is a reality and striving in Papua New Guinea, Oro Governor Garry Juffa said.

While debating on the Lukautim Pikinini Act that was passed in Parliament last Friday, Mr Juffa said the Law also needs to look at issues like child pornography and child sex trade to safeguard young children in the country. He said with globalisation and the internet, childrens’ behaviours have changed as they are heavily influenced by foreign introductions. “Like the one in Philippines, foreigners with money lure young girls and take pictures of them to make money. The child sex industry is striving in PNG. Young children, particularly from settlements in Port Moresby and Lae are involved in the industry. Therefore we need to protect them by putting laws in place to regulate such practices,” a concerned Mr Juffa said.

Mr Juffa also proposed for the inclusion in the Act to control some food items that were not good for the children like betelnut and smoke. He said the Act should also look at creating an institution that would take care of abandoned children. Shadow Attorney General Dr Allan Marat, while commending the Act, said many of the social issues in the country are caused by broken families. He said if the country is to change, then parents have to change their behaviours first. Children learn from the environment where they are raised.

Anti-child marriage bill expected to pass

Post Courier, June 01, 2015. Story courtesy of ABC News

A law making marriage under the age of 18 illegal is expected to be soon tabled and passed in parliament.There is currently no legislation to regulate the marriage age, meaning child marriage is practiced legally. UNICEF’s 2015 statistics found 2 per cent of women aged 20-24 were married by the age of 15, with 21 per cent married by 18 years of age. “We are aware and we are mindful that this is happening,” Mr Kwa told Pacific Beat. “So we need to address this at a national level.”

Mr Kwa said PNG’s cabinet had signalled its intention to approve the law. The issue, he said, would be enforcing the legislation, especially in the “far-flung areas of the country”. “We know it’s going to be a major issue for us in terms of implementation, but we would like to enact the law and then inform the people,” he said. Mr Kwa said the marriage laws will “gel together” with recently-introduced free education and free basic healthcare legislation.

In Vanuatu, the law forbids marriage of women before the age of 16, and for men before the age of 18.

But Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC) coordinator Marilyn Tahi said throughout Melanesia, traditional perspectives were still prevalent. “Our people even have traditions where so long as they’re menstruating, they’re ready to be married off,” she said. “Others say, so long as they have breasts, they’re ready to be married off.”

Smoking high among students

Post Courier, June 01, 2015

FORTY-two per cent of secondary school students, between the ages of 13 and 21, smoke tobacco cigarettes. That is almost half of Papua New Guinea’s future leaders. “Children as young as 10 years old are smoking! Where is this country heading?” Said acting health secretary Elva Lionel.

She was speaking during activities to mark World No Tobacco Day at Gordon Secondary School in Port Moresby.

“A study on secondary school students indicated an 11 per cent consumption rate of illegal cigarettes.

“Just because illegal tobacco is cheaper doesn’t mean it is better for consumption. It is just as harmful as regulated tobacco,” the acting secretary said. “Girls are smoking. Women are smoking. This is not good for our country. The ‘factory for children’ should stop smoking.” Ms Lionel warned women against smoking because they are more likely to have unhealthy babies. The occasion was complemented with a debate between Gerehu and Gordon secondary schools on the pros and cons of smoking.

Smoking kills, warns heart doctor

Post Courier, June 03, 2015

A HEART specialist says smoking increases the risk of heart disease 10 times more than obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. He says in PNG patients, smoking causes heart disease at a younger age, in their 40s and 50s. It currently costs K40,000 to treat a person suffering with a heart disease in PNG – money most Papua New Guineans cannot afford. A World Bank report released this week gives alarming statistics on tobacco consumption, saying 40 percent of Papua New Guineans smoke.

While infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and diarrhoea remain high disease burdens, the rate of non-communicable diseases such as cancers are also rising rapidly in PNG.

Medical professionals have more than once raised concerns about the high rate of people needing health services as compared to the manpower available to attend to them.

Health crisis

Post Courier, June 03, 2015

THERE is a 15-year human resource gap in the health sector that the National Government is struggling to close. This simply means that there are now 17,000 health workers coming out of training schools every year compared with a high 27,000 annually in 2000. Health and HIV Minister Michael Malabag told Parliament it was a gap far reaching and hard to cover, a gap created by bad advice and management by past governments such as closing nursing colleges, early retirement age and a low quota of graduates coming out of medical schools.

Yesterday, the minister was taken to task by Maprik MP John Simon during Question Time in Parliament when asked about the shortage of health workers in Maprik.

Mr Malabag replied: “We are truly short. We have a shortage of health personnel in the country such as nurses and doctors and other senior staff in the health sector.”

Mr Malabag did not have an exact figure of medical doctors graduating from the country’s only medical school annually but he believed it was about 40 doctors. About half of them enter public health service while the other half enter private practice or pursue their careers overseas.

“What we want is 120 doctors every year but we cannot and the medical schools know why,” the Minister said. “Right now, hospitals can only hire from overseas to fill gaps until the country can have its own producing numbers.”

Manus crackdown: Oz government curtails workers’ rights

05 June 2015

More details have emerged about the censorship of doctors, teachers, journalists, NGO employees, church workers and anyone else employed there or reporting on what is happening there at the detention centre on Manus. These professionals can go to jail merely for reporting abuse, which one would assume to be the ethical, humane and right thing to do. Under sweeping new laws designed to gag whistleblowers, doctors, teachers and other professionals working in immigration detention facilities face up to two years in prison if they speak out against conditions in the centres or provide information to journalists. The malevolent Border Force Act, passed quietly by the Australian parliament on 14 May with both major parties assenting, forbids “entrusted people” from recording or disclosing information about conditions in centres such as that on Manus Island.

“Under the proposed measures, the unauthorised disclosures of information, including personal information will be punishable by imprisonment for two years,” the Act says.

The new law will come into force next month at the same time the Australian immigration and customs departments merge. The president of the Australian Medical Association, Prof Brian Owler, said this was the first time doctors had been threatened with jail for revealing inadequate conditions for their patients in immigration centres.

Refugee ‘bashed’ by guards on Manus Island for missing transit centre curfew

Post Courier, June 03, 2015, Story courtesy of ABC News Australia

Security guards on Manus Island have reportedly assaulted a refugee for not returning to the East Lorengau transit centre by the 6:00pm curfew. The Iranian man was at a local restaurant at around 10:00pm when guards from the transit centre assaulted him and took him back to the Australian-funded accommodation.

The refugee is one of a small group of men who have had their asylum claim processed, have left detention and are awaiting permanent resettlement in another part of Papua New Guinea.

However, the PNG Government has not formed a policy for resettling refugees and is giving them no indication how long they will be kept on Manus Island.

While free from the Australian-run detention centre on the Lombrum Naval Base, the refugees are expected to return to the East Lorengau transit centre between 6:00pm and 6:00am.

The night curfew on Manus Island is part of wider restrictions for the refugees awaiting resettlement.

In March, Iranian refugee Reza Mollagholipour was denied permission to leave Manus Island to attend job interviews he had organised in PNG’s capital Port Moresby. Earlier this year Mr Mollagholipour expressed optimism about finding a job and starting a new life in Papua New Guinea but in recent weeks has told the ABC he is losing hope. PNG’s prime minister Peter O’Neill said last month that 129 asylum seekers had been granted refugee status, while more than 400 had returned to their home countries. To date, no refugee has been resettled in PNG.

Migration office assesses asylum seekers

The National, Wednesday June 10th, 2015

MORE than 500 asylum seekers on Manus have had their refugee claims assessed, according to Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura. Rabura said 129 had been determined to be refugees by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato. Forty have been moved to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre to undertake language and cultural orientation training. A recruitment agency is assisting them prepare for jobs and to link them to appropriate firms. They are now awaiting Cabinet’s endorsement of the national refugee integration policy. “They will be permitted to commence work once the National Executive Council endorses (the) policy,” he said.

He said the Government was confident they “will make a positive contribution to our communities”.

“But patience is required as this is a very sensitive process and must be done properly,” Rabura said.

On the arrest of the three migration officers implicated in the abuse of a refugee in Manus on June 1, he said police were dealing with the matter. “If it is proven that there was any wrong doing by immigration officers, they will be subject to internal disciplinary proceedings in addition to any judicial sentence.”

Failed arrest warrants pile up

The National, Wednesday June 4th, 2015

THE Waigani committal court has a huge number of warrants of arrest for people who had failed to comply with bail conditions, Magistrate John Kaumi said. Some of them go back two years.

Kaumi revealed this when refusing a bail application yesterday for Obert Stanley, charged with sexually penetrating a girl aged three, at Hohola 3, Port Moresby, in April this year.

He said: “(There are) More than 15 boxes full of outstanding warrant of arrests dating back a couple of years for people who have been granted bail but who have escaped.” “This is for Waigani alone and does not reflect other district courts of the National Capital District and Central. But I daresay it will be around the same amount or more. “The trend seems that a grant of bail is taken as one-way ticket for the applicants to disappear into oblivion and never again seen in court. “It is a testimony of the failure of bail authorities to carefully assess the trustworthiness of the applicants to adhere to all bail conditions.

Investigation into sorcery killing on the way

Post Courier, June 04, 2015,

The Enga provincial government has financed a plane trip for police to venture to Enga to investigate an alleged sorcery killing that occurred last week. A sorcery killing so gruesome that it has once again put PNG in the international communities spotlight. Missionaries and police say a mother of four, known as Misila, was hacked to death last week in Fiyawena village in Enga province, when 10 men who had earlier accused her of sorcery, carried out a brutal summary execution with an axe.

The Provincial Police Commander for Enga, George Kakas, says police resources are very limited, and the village is a two-hour flight and then a further two-hour walk from Wabag town.

He says now that the provincial government has responded to requests for funding, a plane will be chartered this week, taking officers and investigators to Fiyawena. Missionaries say the primitive beliefs in sanguma, or evil spirits, appear to be spreading from village to village in the highlands.

The socioeconomic effects of corruption on Papua New Guinea both present and future

One of the factors that cause development stagnation in PNG is corruption. In PNG, corruption is widespread and endemic, penetrating all levels of society. Although, corruption flourishes in secrecy, the social and economic effects of it are visible and affect everyone in the country.

Despite unprecedented economic growth with the country experiencing a decade of mineral resources boom, the value of kina has not performed well at the international market. Moody’s 2015 report shows that PNG’s B1 foreign currency and local currency ratings have dropped significantly from stable to negative. Due to government embarking on ambitious development programs our fiscal deficits have widened significantly, hence our external debt had risen to an estimated 37.7% of GDP in 2014. PNG’s debt level, according to Moody’s report exceeded 40% which means our expenditure has significantly exceeded our production and revenue. Many international commentators further state that the government’s preaching about growing economic boom has brought nothing or had little effect on the lives of the ordinary citizens. Poverty is still widespread.

Various social and economic indicators demonstrate the visible effects of corruption in the country. According to Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perception Index, PNG is ranked 150th out of 176 countries, with a score of 25 on a scale of 0 – 100, where zero means that a country is highly corrupt and hundred means a country is very clean. According to the World Bank, PNG’s Human Development Index (HDI) was ranked 153rd out of 187 countries and for Gender Inequality Index (GII) PNG was again placed 153rd out of 187 countries. More than 80% of the country’s population lives in the rural areas where subsistence economy remains the main source of income and daily sustenance. It was estimated that in the period 1993–2002, approximately 57.4% of the population survived on less than $2 a day, suggesting that 70% of the population live below poverty line. The latest Economic and Social Survey Report of the Asia Pacific region reports negatively that the income inequality is widening significantly to the detriment of women, especially in the rural areas…. Significant social indicators such as unemployment is increasing and the current rate is estimated to be higher than 70%. The growing number of “street children” found in PNG’s major towns and cities speaks for itself and has become an eye sore challenge for government’s public policy and development strategies for the future….

The health sector is also battling with very troubling health issues in the country. Many of PNG’s premier hospitals have run down with little or no lifesaving equipment such as kidney dialysis, radiogram machine and even X-Rays and other lifesaving machine are near death stages. [See the url above to access the complete article]

Sorcery and sexism in Papua New Guinea

07 June 2015 By Helen Clark.

ONE of Papua New Guinea’s most persistent problems is not its possibly overheated resource sector nor allegations of corruption. It’s witchcraft. More specifically, the vicious murders of women accused of sorcery. This is a complex problem that involves violence against women, land reclamations, and a rapidly developing nation. A press release from Amnesty International called on the government to do more to protect women in the nation after a woman known as Mifla was hacked to death by a group of men in mid-May. Two other women were also threatened and only just escaped. The trio, along with their children, were first accused in January. A long-time Papua New Guinea resident and land rights activist, Lutheran missionary Anton Lutz, had been documenting the attacks and told the Australian Associated Press, “They believed she was a sanguma (sorcerer), that she was responsible for deaths and misfortune in their world.” Mifila’s death is not uncommon. Attacks, largely targeting unprotected women, based on sorcery allegations have been an increasing problem in PNG, though belief in witchcraft and punishments for it is, says a UN paper from 2013, “culturally embedded.” …

PNG, the consensus goes, must do more. “Papua New Guinea’s authorities must once and for all bring a halt to attacks against alleged ‘sorcerers’ and systemic violence against women.,” said Amnesty’s Kate Schuetze in last week’s press release. Helen Haro from the country Gender Justice Program Manager for Oxfam told The Diplomat that the PNG had shown initiative and commitment, not just in getting rid of the sorcery act but also in drafting the Sorcery Action Plan and more broadly establishing Family Sexual Violence Units and Family Support Centres. “These reforms have, however, been driven by non-government organizations – the government must show its commitment with resource allocation and enforcement.” …

Although women are disproportionately affected the drivers are not simply misogyny but rather money. Much like the terror of the Spanish Inquisition, “witches” are targeted in property disputes, according to Haro. “Our work in the highlands with the Human Rights Defenders Network revealed that while in some cases accusations of sorcery are passed from family to family for generations and driven by strong beliefs, other claims are fabricated for financial gain. Recent research by Oxfam found that in 2 in every 3 accusations resulting in a relocation, sorcery accusations were used as a means of repossessing wealth or resources such as land, houses, or businesses of the person accused.”

[For the full article, access the url above]

Absence of human rights panel affects many citizens

The National, Tuesday June 9th, 2015

THE long delay by the Government to establish a Human Rights Commission in Papua New Guinea leaves a lot of citizens discriminated against as the Ombudsman Commission is not empowered to investigate deeply, the OC said. This is one of the issues faced by the Ombudsman Commission, which Ombudsman Phoebe Sengetari pointed out last Friday in its Lae consultation with the public and  stakeholders in its attempt to make parliament submission to amend the organic laws governing it to expand its powers and jurisdiction. Sengetari said the OC could look into discriminatory practices and complaints touching on human rights issues but there were restrictions under its jurisdiction under the Organic Law on Ombudsman Commission and the Organic Law on Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership. “The government has been talking about setting up a Human Rights Commission, but it’s of a kick-start-stop type of approach for a long period of time now. “So in the meantime, the OC has been performing these functions because we are required as part of our functions to look at discriminatory practices under a particular law,” she said.

Momis praises Bougainville people’s commitment to democracy, 09 June 2015

BOUGAINVILLE’S president-elect John Momis says Bougainvilleans’ conduct in the recent election has shown their commitment to democracy. Dr Momis was speaking after the final results came though at the weekend following a week-long count for the presidency. He was declared President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville on Saturday morning having collected 51,382 votes after the fourth elimination. Dr Momis thanked the people of Bougainville for having the faith in him to lead the team that would take them into the future. He also thanked candidates who stood in the election for their commitment to contribute to the process of peace-building in Bougainville.

Dr Momis also congratulated the people of Bougainville for making sure the election was conducted fairly and freely. He said despite people’s differences they can work together for the common good of Bougainville. He also congratulated Electoral Commissioner George Manu and electoral authorities on the successful staging of the election, which was conducted for the first time by the autonomous region’s own electoral commission. Dr Momis said, despite some hiccups, the election was conducted peacefully and showed people’s commitment to democratic principles, values and the Bougainville vision.

Bougainville government ready to talk mining with Rio Tinto 09 June 2015

BOUGAINVILLE’S newly re-elected president, Dr John Momis, says one of his first moves will be talking with Rio Tinto on whether it is interested in re-opening the Panguna mine. Dr Momis won a resounding victory after counting in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region was completed at the weekend. Bougainville is to conduct a vote on possible independence before 2020 and Mr Momis says mining is the only way to quickly achieve the necessary fiscal self-reliance required before then.

He wants to talk with Rio Tinto first because they ran the Panguna mine, through Bougainville Copper Ltd, before the Bougainville conflict. “Hoping we can come to an agreement to start taking some practical steps to re-open the mine,” Dr Momis said, “but if Rio Tinto chooses not to engage us then we have other options to look at.” Rio Tinto has been reviewing its position after the former government passed a new mining law.

Street kids sent home

The National, Wednesday June 10th, 2015

CITY authorities in Port Moresby have started clearing the streets of children involved in selling items, or in any form of child labour. City manager Leslie Alu has appealed to parents and primary care-givers to take their children from the streets and be more responsible for their safety, development and welfare. He said the National Capital District Commission was the city’s governing authority which was concerned about the increasing number of children roaming the streets, or living and working on the streets and public places, as the Pacific Games nears. Some have reportedly been involved in the sex industry although figures could not be confirmed. Parliament passed last week the Lukautim Pikinini Bill which ensured that children were protected and enjoyed basic rights such as access to education, health, food, love and care. Alu warned that parents who failed to carry out their responsibilities could be charged with negligence. “Individuals or groups must stop the practice of child labour and exploitation for commercial purposes and self-gain,” he said.“Amicable laws will be applied on those concerned. Children must refrain from directing cars at parking lots, begging and selling items in public places.” He said their safety and health were at risk.  “You must return to your parents and homes and go to school,” he said.

PNG drug dangerous

The National, Wednesday June 10th, 2015

MARIJUANA grown in the country has a high cannabis content which can damage the brain, an officer from the National Narcotics Bureau says. Education and awareness officer Lawrence Tau said many young people had become mentally ill because of this. He said PNG marijuana had very high cannabis content than those in other parts of the world. Tau said marijuana contained 421 chemicals and the one that was most dangerous was THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which could cause neurological disorder in the brain. “Brain coordination among those who smoke marijuana may malfunction because the toxins from the cannabis destroy the brain cells.”

‘Bulb eater’ to dispose of old tube lights

The National, Wednesday June 10th, 2015

PNG Power Ltd is calling on individuals and organisations in Port Moresby to bring old tube lights and bulbs to be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way by using a machine. Corporate relations officer Stanley Mark said during World Environment Day celebration at Port Moresby Nature Park last Saturday that florescent tubes and incandescent bulbs contained mercury which was harmful to the environment and to people’s health. He said the “bulb eater” machine neutralised the mercury for disposal. “We have to be conscious with our environment by properly disposing dangerous chemicals like mercury,” Mark said. “If we dispose them wrongly, they will be washed by rain into the rivers which people or animals drink from.” Mark urged individuals and companies to bring their old light bulbs and tubes to the company’s Hohola head office. Mark said they had so far disposed about 5000 florescent tubes and bulbs.

Shortage of blood a problem in hospitals

Post Courier, June 11, 2015

SHORTAGE of blood has always been a problem faced by all hospitals, says Deputy Health Secretary Paison Dakulala. “We have lost precious lives in parts of the country due to non-availability of blood. We need more awareness, more co-operation and participation from both public and the private sectors to assist us in participating in voluntary blood promotions and blood drives,” he said.

In Papua New Guinea most of the blood is used to treat anaemia in women (obstetrics complications and cancer) and children. Trauma is our next biggest user and cancers. On Tuesday, Dr Dakulala and head of National Blood Transfusion Services Dr Marilyn Mathias urged the public to donate. Dr Mathias said there were a lot of misconceptions about donating blood. She emphasised that there was current awareness on those myths.

According to the Health Department, the NBTS collects on average 30,000 units of blood annually, 57 per cent are from voluntary unpaid donors and 43 per cent are from family replacement blood donors.

According to WHO requirements and recommendations, PNG needs to collect 120,000-150,000 units of blood per year. We collect only 25 per cent of our annual requirement. Also, all these donated blood are screened for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis. There are 35 blood banks located in each provincial hospitals and district hospitals where people could go to donate blood. Every healthy person can donate blood every three months (four times annually).

Mother dies after delivery due to lack of govt service

Post Courier, June 11, 2015

A MOTHER in labour delivered successfully but died shortly afterwards because she had no access to medicine and a midwife. This sad event took place recently at Borudi village situated in the mountain ranges of Koiari district in Central Province, northeast of Port Moresby. Borudi village councillor Arthur Danny related the story this week, adding that young mother would be alive today if she had access to proper medical facility, drugs and a medical officer to attend to her during a difficult labour.

“An Aid Post was funded under the Central Province services improvement program in 2009. However, the building was left empty with no medical officers, no medical facilities and no drugs to serve more than 2000 people of Borudi and four neighboring villages,” Cr Danny said. “Many people have lost their lives while a few have struggled to travel to Kokoda and Port Moresby to get medical treatment or seek a doctor’s help,” he said.

Affected cocoa farmer shed tears

Post Courier, June 15, 2015,

LINA Martin could not hold back her tears when describing how her cocoa block was totally destroyed by an oil palm developer in the Inland Baining area of East New Britain Province.

Over 500 cocoa trees were cut down and hopes of planting 200 more cocoa seedlings that she acquired from the World Bank funded Baining Cooperative Society nursery at Kulit ward were shattered. From Radingi Ward, Mrs Martin is one of several farmers whose cocoa blocks were bulldozed to make way for oil palm development. She said they were not told that their cocoa trees will be cut down.

“Mipla kirap nogut lo ol man ikam wantem saw na katim tasol,” she told reporters who had gone up to the area last week accompanied by government officials and police. She said the land on which she had planted her crops was customary land and that she was a landowner. Mrs Martin said she was part of the eight clans that make up the landowner company Quareqa Limited which had engaged an Asian company Tzen Niugini to bring in oil palm development. However, she said she did not sign up to be part of the new development and did not want oil palm to be planted on her land.

Doctor set to make difference in rural area

Post Courier, June 17, 2015,

DOCTORS are highly regarded, especially in rural and remote parts of this country, and a simple message they give on health is often taken seriously. This was Dr Gideon Gelesi’s experience that saved thousands of lives from cholera in remote Lambutina and Nambariwa villages of Wasu area in Morobe Province. It was in July 2009 when he went home to bury his father. And during that time, a man fell ill from cholera, a disease that no one, not even health workers in the area, had detected before and knew about. Realising what it was, he told the villagers: “Boil all your drinking water and wash your hands with soap and water.’’He also educated the people about the disease.

He then took the dying man after putting him on drip, accompanied by his relatives, and headed to the nearest health facility, the Etep Lutheran run rural hospital, where his father had earlier received medical help. There were five deaths from cholera at the time. While the sick man was being treated, he sat down a young doctor and spoke to him about this disease called cholera. He advised him to be prepared because more cholera patients were going to come. He also took out his own dad’s medical file and showed him where the flaws were, not because he was angry but wanted to ensure that the hospital did things right to prevent more people getting infected with the disease.

There was no treatment protocol on cholera in PNG. He then headed to Lae where he reported the matter to the provincial health authorities and later to Port Moresby to get the message out. Dr Gelesi is today working with the Department of High Education, Research, Science and Technology, where he is helping to send young people for skills training programs in Cairns, Australia.

Women protest hospital closure

Post Courier, June 17, 2015

MORE than 3000 women staged a peaceful protest in Porgera station last Friday, calling on the Health Department to take over the privately-run Porgera Hospital. The protest follows decisions to shut down operations due to lack of funding from the Government through the Porgera Development Authority (PDA). The protest was organised by Porgera District Women in Business and the Porgera District Women Associations, involving their members from 11 different women groups. PDWA president, Maria Kensary, said the hospital was the only major service in the valley despite the world-class mine and had to carry on after the mine ceased operations. “It has to start running as a Government hospital now so that we will have no problem when the mine operations shut down,” Mrs Kensary said. The hospital was established under the Porgera Mine agreement and, according to PDA director, Opis Yandapake, there was no source of funding.

Samaritan Aviation Saves Life

Post-Courier, 16th June, 2015

Samaritan Aviation has saved yet another life in the remote Torembi village of East Sepik Province. Earlier this week, Samaritan Aviation received an emergency call for a young woman from one of the 17 clinics that they look after in the province. Rosalia had been pregnant with her first child but lost her baby during labour at a nearby health centre and for the next five days she had suffered from a retained placenta. Health workers at the centre decided to place a desperate call to Samaritan Aviation in Wewak for help. Samaritan Aviation president Mark Palm told Post-Courier from Wewak yesterday that after hiking for 30 minutes and travelling by canoe for almost three hours, family and friends caring for Rosalia arrived at the Sepik River where Palm and nurse Gertrude from Catholic Health Services were waiting. Rosalia, who was in critical condition, was quickly loaded onto the country’s only float plane, locally known as Saman Balus, and flown to Wewak where she was rushed by ambulance to Boram Hospital and doctors were able to administer a procedure that saved her life. In 2014, Samaritan Aviation flew 117 life flights resulting in 104 saved lives, Mr Palm said, adding they had delivered more than 70,000 medical supplies in East Sepik Province since operation in PNG. More than 60 per cent of the lives which were saved were those of mothers and babies. Lowering the infant mortality and maternal death rates in the East Sepik Province continues to be one of the organisation’s main goals. By providing maternal health, newborn care and midwifery training in remote areas through partnership with non-profits like Living Child from Australia, those goals are being reached, Mr Palm said .The team at Samaritan Aviation, consisting of four families from America and four Papua New Guinean workers, are dedicated to showing God’s love through action using a hands-on approach.

City Mission Opens Childrens Crisis Centre

Post- Courier, 16th June, 2015

City Mission of Port Moresby has opened a crisis centre for children, including those commonly referred to as street children. However, the organisation’s administration manager Steve Highland said this was a temporary home for these children. He said the centre was being funded by Child Fund, an Australian non-governmental organisation, and would be run jointly with the Government’s custodian of the Lukautim Pikinini Act or the Director of the Child Welfare, National Capital District Commission and World Vision would be accepting children on six months basis while waiting for the Government to sort out issues relating to the child’s long-term future, including a home.

Water, a Strategic Asset

Post-Courier, 17th June, 2015

Water, one of PNG’s biggest natural resource, has been identified by the Government as a strategic asset to improve human development and economy of the people. Minister for National Planning and Monitoring Charles Abel said the Government has finally recognised the importance to utilise the country’s natural environment and its resources towards building a vibrant future of Papua New Guineans. He said this in light of the Government’s WaSH project and other fresh water management capacities. These were developed and captured in the medium term development plan 2016 – 2017 to create and maintain improved water access for the people. According to the plan, the key strategic priorities are development of strategic policy and action plan on water resources and implementation, increasing access of improved water source for rural and urban households and schools and health institutions, increasing cultivated area under irrigation, increasing the proportion of hydro-electricity in the energy sector plus increasing bottling of PNG’s fresh water for drinking.

Group gets seedlings for climate change plan

The National, Monday June 22nd, 2015

THE Mulmana Community Development Association in Hagen Central, Western Highlands received 4000 seedlings from the provincial government to start one of its pilot projects. The seedlings were part of a million seedlings the Government, under its personal viability programme, will make available to people in the four districts to help combat climate change and greenhouse effects.

Programme coordinator Lorence Soto  said the provincial government, under the leadership of Governor Paias Wingti, was aiming to supply 1,000,000 seedlings. The association was recently assigned by the provincial government to assume its responsibility under the program to supply seedlings to others. The association’s members have already built a nursery house.

MPs are lawmakers and not cheque book carriers and basic service deliverers

MPs are supposed to be lawmakers and not cheque book carriers promising to deliver basic government services. Implementing government policies and delivering basic services is the function and the responsibility of the public service mechanism in the country and not MPs.

We have more serious issues for the MPs to debate in the parliament and address them. The following are some serious issues affecting this country for the last 40 years and which every MP should be engaging in addressing them:

  1. Job creation – more than 85 % of the population still unemployed and live in rural villages untouchable by basic services;
  2. Energy security – the growth of the country needs cheap and reliable energy;
  3. High cost of living – PNG is one of the most expansive countries in the world;
  4. Food security – a healthy population will increase productivity and reduce medical costs. Reduce high cost of living;
  5. External and internal security – buildup of Indonesia military in the border is a concern. Tribal fights and ethnic violence is a grave concern;
  6. High cost of housing – the country needs cheap and affordable housing for every income level;
  7. Law and order problem – high unemployment and poverty is the cause of most law and order problems. The defense force and police force in the country becoming a problem too;
  8. Economic growth – diversification of the economy to grow every economic potential;
  9. Infrastructures – connecting up all provinces to boost traded and trousim;
  10. Corruption – trapping millions in poverty and contributing to the law and order problems; and
  11. You can add onto this list

MPs supposed to be discussing these issues and not becoming obsessed with cheque books.

Long-awaited letter by Pope Francis on the Environment

A comment on Laudiato Si – an Encyclical from Pope Francis, published on 18th June

Pope Francis has published a special letter (called an encyclical) on Caring for Creation and the Environment yesterday in Rome. It is a letter addressed to the whole of humanity, not just to Catholics. The letter has received a good deal of attention in the media throughout the world because it will touch on important issues such as climate change, pollution, poverty, and the like.

The Encyclical takes its name (Laudato si) from the invocation of Saint Francis of Assisi, “Praise be to you, my Lord” which in the Canticle of the Creatures reminds us that the earth, our common home “is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us”. We ourselves “are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters”.

Pope Francis points out that it is not enough to look only at the “symptoms” such as global warming, changed weather patterns, and pollution, and to ignore the human causes of these issues. So there needs to be not only an environmental ecology to do with land, air and water, but also a cultural ecology that respects the culture and rights of people, including indigenous people, but also an ecology of daily life that would question aspects of modern technological culture.” The solution is seen the Catholic social principle of the “common good”. According to that principle, everyone has a right to clean air and clean water.

The Pope’s message is not just for so-called developed countries that use so much fossil fuel such as coal and oil. He mentions a number of issues relevant to PNG, such as the right to clean water, the importance of mangroves, the problems of deforestation, mercury pollution with gold-mining, or a “throw-away culture” that turns our environment into a trash heap. Pope Francis sees the solution in an “ecological conversion” — seeing nature not as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. Rather as human beings we must be in a respectful and loving relationship with God, with other human beings, and with nature.

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