Social Concerns Notes – August 2019


‘Shocking’ levels of child violence in Pacific, says new report

AUCKLAND – A report has detailed shocking levels of physical violence and neglect towards millions of Pacific Islands children, sparking calls for better-targeted aid programs from countries like New Zealand and Australia. The report team, from combined aid agencies, investigated child-rearing practices in seven Pacific countries, as well as Timor-Leste. The report found as many as four million children experience violence at home across the Pacific – a staggering 2.8 million in Papua New Guinea alone.

More than half of all sexual violence referred to medical clinics involves children in PNG, where almost one in three parents report beating children “as hard as they can”. The research also outlines a range of factors that contribute to the abuse, including Pacific societies with high levels of gender inequality; social acceptance of physical punishment of children, weak governance, and growing poverty and inequality.

The report’s authors said the research shows the critical lack of overseas aid invested in programs aimed at ending violence against children, and programs by countries like New Zealand and Australia need to be more targeted.

Carsten Bockemuehl, World Vision’s advocacy campaigns lead for the Pacific, said violence against children will make societies less prosperous and will exacerbate risks to health and criminal justice systems and that there needed to be a “rebalancing” of aid priorities in the Pacific.

“It’s actually an economic issue, it makes countries poorer, so that’s why, out of the many competing priorities in developing countries, we just advocate for violence to be recognised as a critical development issue.”

Hefty fine, jail for abusers

August 7, 2019The National

PEOPLE committing violence against children will be fined up to K5,000 or jailed up to two years or both under the Lukautim Pikinini Act, says Community Development, Youth and Religion Minister Wake Goi. He made the statement following reports of recent child abuses in Port Moresby.
Three children were beaten and locked up in the cell two weeks ago at Boroko and last week, four children were stripped, beaten and poured paint on after they were allegedly caught doing graffiti.
And recently at Gordon bus station, a grade eight student in school uniform was allegedly beaten by police officers. Samuel Kolas, 18, a grade 8 student at the Wardstrip Primary School, was allegedly beaten by three policemen while he was waiting for a bus. Goi said that these reports spoke volumes of negligence, abuse and violence perpetrated against children.
Under the Lukautim Pikinini Act section 78, for all forms of violence other than sexual violence the penalty is K5,000 fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both,” she said. “The perpetrators must be arrested and charged under the Lukautim Pikinini Act.”

Bishop slams forms of violence against children

August 12, 2019The NationalNational

THE head bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran church of Papua New Guinea Dr Jack Urame has condemned physical violence and other forms of violence against children in Papua New Guinea, adding that this is a serious issue and a sign of the breakdown of family and societal values.
He was referring to a new report on child protection crisis in the Pacific released at the United Nations High-level Political Forum in New York last month.
The Unseen and Unsafe: Underinvestment in Ending Violence Against Children in the Pacific and Timor-Leste report shows that over 70 per cent or four million children across eight countries experience violent discipline at home, including a staggering 2.8 million (75 per cent of the child population) in PNG. The report details, for the first time, the shocking levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence, as well as neglect faced by children living in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.
“If the report is true about our country, then it does not reflect well on our society, a so-called Christian country,” Urame told The National. “We will face a lot of problems in the future because we are not helping the children, who are the very future of this nation.
“I appeal to mothers and fathers to be responsible for their children.
“We must change our attitudes when caring for our children.”
He called on all churches in the country to speak out on the issue.
“The church condemns and does not tolerate all forms of violence and abuse towards children. We must all work together now to ensure our children are given the rightful and proper care they deserve.”

PNG: Look to agriculture not minerals to strengthen economy  02 August 2019

LONDON, UK – Papua New Guinea should look to agriculture to strengthen growth as the economy recovers from a series of external shocks, the World Bank has said. Structural transformation was needed in the country to bring about the inclusive and sustainable development that would enable its economy to become more resilient, the bank suggested in a report. Real GDP growth in Papua New Guinea dropped gradually from 13.5% in 2014 to -0.5% in 2018. During this time there was a commodity price shock, a particularly warm El Niño climate cycle and a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hampered the economy, the World Bank pointed out in the report, released on Friday last week.

But now, real GDP growth is forecast to be about 5.6% in 2019, and hover at just over 3% in 2020-21 – a recovery mainly observed in the resource sector, dominated by liquefied natural gas. Ilyas Sarsenov, World Bank senior country economist for Papua New Guinea, said: “PNG’s growth outlook remains positive but fragile due to rising economic uncertainties ranging from the domestic political economy to the recent escalation of trade tensions between the United States and China. “To mitigate downside risks to the outlook and better weather external shocks, it is recommended that PNG authorities adjust macroeconomic policy and focus on structural transformation of the economy, especially in agriculture as a potential economic driver for more diversified and inclusive development.” About 87% of the country’s population live in rural areas, with three quarters of them involved in subsistence and cash income agriculture – including fresh foods, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, copra and copra oil.

Pacific leaders want their summit to focus on climate, not China

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Pacific island leaders insist climate change, not China, will top the agenda when they meet in Tuvalu this month as western-aligned nations push to curb Beijing’s growing influence in the region. Once regarded as a sleepy backwater of the diplomatic world, the islands are now a hotbed of aid projects and charm offensives as anxiety over China’s presence grows. Australia has labelled its campaign the Pacific Step-Up, New Zealand has the Pacific Reset, and Britain the Pacific Uplift, while the United States, Japan, and France have also intensified their efforts to court the region. But local leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu from August 13 to 16 are wary their concerns will be sidelined if they become pawns in a wider power struggle. The 16-member forum mainly consists of small island nations, along with Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand. PIF secretary-general Dame Meg Taylor said the forum, whose members collectively refer to themselves as the Blue Pacific, was at a pivotal moment in its history.”While we are the subject of the geopolitical maneuvering and strategies of others, the Blue Pacific collective remains focused on charting our own destiny,” she said.

The primary concern for island leaders – many of whom live in low-lying nations threatened by rising seas – is climate change

PNG needs to depreciate exchange rate, academic says

August 12, 2019The NationalNational

Papua New Guinea’s economy showed signs of recovery last year but it has not been sustained this year, according to survey results presented at the 2019 Update PNG Forum in Port Moresby last week. Australian National University director of development policy centre Stephen Howes told the forum PNG needed to depreciate its exchange rate.
Howes said PNG was the 10th most resource-intensive economy in the world, reliant on petroleum, oil, gas, coal and minerals, the Saudi Arabia of the Pacific.
“In order to recover after the boom, PNG needs to depreciate its exchange rate.
“Until it does that, PNG is going to suffer from foreign exchange shortages and that will drag on growth. “The rising salary bill, rising interest burden and revenue is flat which makes fiscal adjustments and management difficult. “The Government cannot pay bills because it has to pay salaries and interest obligations. State-owned entities debt and some of the guarantees were adding to the fiscal stress.”

Mobile phones have seen rapid rise in off-grid solar in PNG

CANBERRA — The use of off-grid solar products has skyrocketed over the past five years in Papua New Guinea, with 60% of households now using solar lighting — up sharply from just 2% in 2012, according to a new report by the International Finance Corporation. As a result, PNG now has one of the highest rates of use of off-grid solar lighting in the developing world, according to the report ‘Going the Distance: Off-Grid Lighting Market Dynamics in PNG’. Part of this is due to the fact that 87% of the population — or 7.2 million people — are not connected to the electricity grid. But the increased use of mobile technology has also played a major role. The report showed the transition happened at a time when mobile phone penetration was growing rapidly, but the means to charge phones was lagging. Off-grid solar products on the PNG market now include generic battery powered torches and lanterns, as well as IFC quality-verified off-grid solar products — with many providing the ability to charge a phone.  “This is because people need the energy to charge their mobiles, and there is also an attempt by mobile companies to launch initiatives for mobile charging. It is important to remember that the revenues of mobile companies are directly related to handsets being charged.”

Sori: Teachers having sexual relationship to be terminated

August 13, 2019The NationalNational

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TEACHERS who abuse their position of trust and have sexual relationships with female students will be terminated, Teachers Service Commissioner Baran Sori says. Sori told The National that teachers engaged in sexual relationships with their students was not just a serious offence but also criminal in nature. He made this statement after three male secondary high school teachers in New Ireland were terminated for having sexual relationships with their students. “The three teachers were charged with the offence by a senior provincial school inspector after complaints were raised and the matter was referred to the provincial education board, who recommended their immediate dismissal,” Sori said.

‘Condom’ cops jailed

August 15, 2019The NationalNational

TWO police officers were jailed 18 months by the Waigani National Court yesterday for forcing a woman to chew and swallow three condoms in 2015. Justice Panuel Mogish also ordered Joshua Yawijah and Jacklyn Tanda to be dismissed from the force. “Police officers are supposed to uphold human rights, not abuse their powers,” he said. Yawijah and Tanda, both probationary police officers, recorded a video of the woman’s ordeal of chewing and swallowing the condoms and posted the it on the Internet.
“You did not formally arrest and charge the complainant for an offence, but instead you forced her to eat and swallow the condoms,” he told the duo.
Yawijah, 25, from Pangia, Southern Highlands has two children and Tanda, 26, from Wabag, Enga, has a three-month-old baby. “Before you commit a crime, always think about your family.”

University will fix doctor shortage: Minister

August 15, 2019The NationalNational

HEALTH Minister Elias Kapavore said the issue of shortage of doctors in the country could only be addressed with a standalone medical university and the training of medical students at other major institutions. Kapavore said given the current ratio of one doctor for every 20,000 people, the Government was trying to address the shortage of doctors in the country and had taken several measures. He had instructed the new Medical Board of PNG with the support of two Australian medical professors to visit the Divine Word University next month to assess the curriculum and its facilities related to the teaching of medicine. Kapavore said while the DWU medical programme had its critics, the curriculum and training offered at Madang institution the two professors would be able to give him a clear understanding what the school needed to produce qualified and quality graduates. He said based on their report, a review of the curriculum would be done if needed to ensure the changes were made in order for DWU to graduate its first doctors in 2021 which he said would double the number of annual graduates.

Marape govt begins to address PNG’s grim cancer battle

23 August 2019


PORT MORESBY – We are all susceptible to cancer regardless of age, sex, race, health and socioeconomic situation. Cancer strikes indiscriminately. It takes alike the old and young, weak and robust, eliminating a former common misconception- one of many myths of cancer – that it is mainly an ailment consigned to the older age bracket.

Unlike death and its inevitability, cancer can be fatal, but is also avoidable and treatable, given the right drugs and equipment. And it can be curable as well if diagnosed and treated at the earliest stage. I was privileged to speak to the late Dr John Niblett about this in July 2013. At the time this great and selfless man was director of the Angau Memorial Hospital’s cancer treatment centre.

Dr Niblett (God rest his soul) died on 4 July 2017 – an especially tragic passing given his cruel expulsion from the treatment centre by an ingrate National Department of Health and the Health Minister at the time. In light of the Marape government’s recent announcement of a sizable capital injection of K60 million into the country’s two top hospitals to ensure cancer treatment will be available next year, I am prompted to revisit my enlightening conversation with the late Dr Niblett.

Then a leading cancer specialist and the only resident radiation oncologist in PNG, Dr Niblett said given the underdeveloped, underfunded, understaffed and under-informed cancer response by the health department, early detection was the only hope anyone afflicted by cancer had to be given a fighting chance to survive. Back in 2013, the statistics painted an almost hopeless picture of the cancer situation in the country. Of an estimated 2,000 cancer cases each year, an average of 400 were detected and referred to the cancer centre for treatment management. This was a mere 40% compared to the outstanding 60% of undetected cases, implying that some 1,200 unfortunate people suffered in what can only be described as dreadful circumstances without treatment and without hope.

26 August 2019

Peace in the valley – and it all started in the home

BRAD WATSON | Adventist Record | Edited

KUNDIAWA – The air is filled with smoke rising languidly above mounds of black ash. Women and children hide in the forest, terrified of those who have stripped their fields and herded away their pigs.

In the distance, a decrepit school stands idly, empty of laughter or the sounds of teachers scolding students. A small church, recently filled with sounds of song and praise, is the only building that is untouched. Over a ridge, a widow watches a sweet potato roasting on a bed of glowing ash. She is worried. Her hands tremble. Recently a man in her clan died after a long illness. Some of the relatives are saying she is responsible.

They huddle together and whisper. A witch, one says. A sorcerer, says another. A Dracula. For that is the new word they use for the likes of her. She has done nothing but fears what will happen when the relatives of the deceased man return to her house.

She is still grieving, for her own husband died two years earlier, and a daughter died recently in childbirth. It was too dangerous to go to the hospital.

This was the recent, harsh reality of life for the 3,000 people of the Guna-Goreku tribe in Papua New Guinea’s rugged and beautiful Simbu Province. According to Benjamin Kola and his wife, Agnes, few Guna-Goreku people had gone to school because of constant fighting for more than 25 years. [See the above url for the full article]

Progress may be inevitable but human dignity should prevail

PORT MORESBY – The fate of about 100 families residing in 64 units of National Housing Commission flats at Gordon in Port Moresby hangs in precarious balance as they face eviction from their homes of 20-30 years by a private property developer.

The matter is the subject of a bitter and protracted legal battle that has taken up the better part of the last 12 years and is still awaiting a final court decision.

But the political leadership of the National Capital District (NCD) must be lauded, and loudly, for standing up for the families who are agitated and distressed about the future. Governor Powes Parkop and the MPs of Moresby South and North-East have made considerable efforts to address the adverse effects of physical developments on affected communities in and around the city.

Moresby North-East MP John Kaupa recently told the affected Gordon families that, if an eviction is compelled to happen by law, it will take place, but that it is incumbent upon leaders to ensure it occurs in a just, orderly and humane manner.

Essentially, the MP captured and amplified the collective view of local political leaders led by Governor Parkop.

In the last two years alone, there have been a number of NCD-sanctioned relocation of entire communities displaced by commercial developments.

A human rights lawyer prior to taking up politics, Governor Parkop consistently champions the cause of powerless people caught in the aggressive cross currents of progress and development. That is certainly the sentiment of Francis Irai, an elderly man of about 70, living with his family in a makeshift home constructed of rusted metal sheet walls and canvas for a roof. The squalor in which the family is living is shocking and degrading, but the family has no place else and the future is devoid of hope as far as Mr Irai can see, which unfortunately is not too far as he is losing his sight. They are victims of progress taking the form of a brand new four-lane road linking Gerehu and 9 Mile, purportedly to reduce the traffic congestion on the nearby main highway.

Irai is now a broken man without a job, without a home and without hope. He sought me out to air his story in his firm belief that Governor Parkop will heed his plea.

Kase’s admission of health system failure 10 years overdue

14 August 2019. . 

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country..LAE – For the last five years, I have been repeating the same story: ‘We have a crisis in the health system.’The rest of the country can see it. The people who are victims of the medicine shortages all over the country keep speaking out about it. Health workers have cried while being interviewed because they simply can’t save lives. And we’re not talking about the expensive cancer treatment and operations families have to pay for. 

It’s the basics that are lacking. Antibiotics, malaria drugs, family planning drugs and consumables. The clinics don’t have them. Or even if they have them, the supplies are not enough for their catchment areas. Personally, I have emailed the health secretary, Pascoe Kase, about the cancer unit in Lae, the ill-treatment of the late Dr John Niblet and the medicine shortages. I have called and sent text messages. No reply.

I found that the only way  get the (former) government’s attention was to produce a series of live videos on Facebook berating the health minister and the ‘higher ups’ until the issue got discussed on the floor of parliament. It took a change of government before health workers truly felt free to openly discuss the medicine shortages.  When the new PM, James Marape, travelled to Lae on his second visit, he came with health minister Elias Kapavore and secretary Kase. We put the question of medicine shortages to him yet again. The health secretary was indeed quick to defend saying the medicine shortage was a “broad” assumption and that the problem was with the area medical stores.He went on further to state that a lot of the blame lay with staff at the clinics.

I said: “You have to go to the clinics and talk to staff because the information you are giving me here is wrong.”  (I have the video).  It turned into a tense exchange which we later had to cut short. After more than five years, secretary Kase is now ‘admitting’ that there are problems.  I could say better late than never.  But…no.  We wanted that admission earlier. We wanted an acknowledgment of the problem and it is almost 10 years overdue. Senior doctors like Sam Yokopua, Ludwig Nanawar and Alex Peawi have all threatened to resign over the unresolved problems that continue to hurt their patients. 


I liked the last sentence of Scott’s article. Luckily in my sojourn in PNG I didn’t spend too long living in the capital but the few years remain etched in my memory-bank.

I can still the recall the delightful appearance of the Waigani public servants and ministerial bag-carriers or ‘gofers’.

They looked quite sharp in their nice clothes complete with an air of officialdom that impressed the peasants who sought answers in shabby government offices or when these so called public servants accompanied their ministerial masters often helicoptered into the sweaty backwaters of the nation and thus avoiding nasty spray from a dinghy trip or inhaling the road dust and pothole bumps along neglected mud roads.

Having been a mostly rural inhabitant for my 32 years in PNG I had witnessed the terrible shortcoming of the Health Department at first hand:

The lovely dental building at Taskul with no electricity connection and the second-hand dental chair which would send you somersaulting backwards onto floor as it had a damaged rear support. Two officers stationed there to carry out 19th century extractions.

Daughter with cut finger arrived at 1610 so no treatment until next day.

Never ending lack of correct tablets so aspirin for malaria.

No antiseptic.

On and on it goes with the poor old aidposts having rundown buildings with even less medial necessities. Not even a water supply for some as collecting gutters broken or tank rusted and leaking.

Reports in PNG media now in my health file continue to grow and every year appear articles on the failure of the health ministers and their secretaries to solve the greatest problem of drug supply in their fiefdom.

011203 Medical drugs run out in NG Islands region:

INTRAVENOUS fluid, an essential medical drug, is reportedly running short in the New Guinea Islands Region. Saint Mary’s Vunapope Hospital paediatrician Dr Pomat told of one patient, who was very sick and needed IV treatment but hospital staff could not administer IV because they did not have the fluid in stock and the patient died. “It is a crisis situation. We are out of intravenous fluids,” Dr Pomat said.

020624 THE Port Moresby General Hospital is critically short of drugs There are no anaesthetic drugs and laboratory reagents.

020102 Goroka needs steriliser to fight typhoid epidemic

040114 Cancer, silent killer -UP to 10,000 Papua New Guineans die every year as a result of cancer

060721 Moresby hospital runs out of drugs

080608 2nd hand cancer machine that Lae hospital bought in 1979 eventually gave up ghost in 1999

081212 Tari hospital runs out of drugs

081231 In dire straits POMGH forced to accept donations to stay in business

090107 Babies miss out as drugs run out at Well Baby Clinic in POM

091016 Drug supply short at urban clinics

100223 Drug shortage in Lae clinics for newborn babies

100520 Last three months before ART drug supply ceases

119221 The acute shortage of basic medical drugs in rural aid posts in Madang and Karkar is now into its second month as the province’s medical store and supplier remains closed.

110722 Drugs shortage kills nine in Kandrian

111107 A$1.4 million given to pursue snake-bites study

110130 Papua New Guinea Health Report – The worst state of health in the Pacific region

120217 No immunisation vaccines for babies in Lae

120412 Nonga Base hospital short on oxygen supplies

120418 Wewak General Hospital is sending away patients seeking X-rays because its machine is not working.

131201 Internal DFAT documents identify Borneo Pacific as PNG’s largest provider of drugs from manufacturer North China Pharmaceutical Group, a known offender in China’s fake drugs crisis.

140109 Health is PNG Government’s priority says Sir Puke Temu Minister for Public service

140115 Central Supply & Tenders Board backs NEC award to Borneo because it is not a manufacturer and did not require the ISO 9001 accreditation

140522 Burst pipes rats taint Modilon, Madang hospital food

140605 Medical kits here next week from Borneo Pharmaceutical Company in Indonesia

140722 Hospitals receive 300 second hand beds from John Hunter Hospital in OZ

150331 Shortage of BCG vaccine for babies at POM G Hospital is unacceptable

151106 PM seems to be deluded when he says ‘no drug shortages in PNG hospitals’

160413 Critical drug shortage at POM G Hospital for six months

160415 ‘Hospitals not short of drugs’ says Secty. Pascoe Kase

160517 Laloki short of vital mental drug Olanzepine

160623 K50 Millions owed to suppliers and distributors of medical drugs acknowledged by health Minister Michael Malabag & his Secty. P Kase

160926 Hospitals lack cancer drugs

170103 Nogat marasin

170315 Lack Of Anti Venom In PNG A Concern at www.

170320 Shortage of pap smear tests because of lack of pathologists

170412 Half a million funding for drugs not enough for 6 months

170609 Drugs crisis being fixed says Secty. Kase

170808 K15,000 anti-venom fee will cause deaths says Dr Sam Yockopua

180222 Medicines running out as supplies stuck without distributor as Sir Puke dithers

180525 Sir Puke Tuma Health minister NOW admits medicine, needles, gauze, cotton often run out

181031 Oro Clinic serving 2000 people: No antibiotics, no painkillers or other basic supplies such as gauze, gloves and adhesives.

190319 Ways sought to improve supply of medicine says Sir Puka Temu

These mere headlines tell a sad tale of political neglect either from idiots, uncaring or corrupt elites who turn up to work in their nice clothes but often disdaining to answer the pleas of the masses crying out for a decent health system throughout the nation.

We are all aware how the top lot somehow afford trips to overseas hospitals or at the very at least access private medical care.

Sadly May 2019’s misnamed ‘change of government’ saw O’Neills recent supporters who had just publicly railed against him happily coalescing into almost the same political swamp dwellers.

Nothing new under the sun in politics: ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’

If you’re pregnant, very unwell, suffering from cancer, TB or with mental illness don’t hold your breath waiting to see improvements in your rural health facility.

Posted by: Arthur Williams | 14 August 2019 at 09:48 PM

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