Social Concerns Notes – March 2020

Disparity in a global pandemic.

Patients per Doctor
Italy – 240:1
S. Korea – 300:1
Spain – 300:1
USA – 390:1
Australia – 400:1
New Zealand – 420:1
China – 950:1
Papua New Guinea – 20,000:1

Penalty rejected: Steven

March 2, 2020The National

ACTING Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Davis Steven says it is difficult to push for the implementation of death penalty in the country.
Steven told The National that the report on death penalty was submitted to National Executive Council (NEC) seven times but it had continued to be rejected.
“I took the report to NEC but after seven attempts or so it got rejected finally because people don’t want death penalty,” he said.
“I thank the NEC and Prime Minister because we could have rejected it and forgotten about it and the gap would have remained.
“The last thing we want is to be blamed for somebody’s death. People accuse us of passing too many laws and not enforcing them. This one law if we allow it will to go ahead, it will work as a deterrent,” he said.

Police violence is alienating youth

15 March 2020

KIMBE – The common practice of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary picking up youths going about their legitimate business in the street, throwing them in the back of a police 10-seater and belting them to try and get information (torture), that they may or may not have, has to stop.

Police Minister Bryan Kramer, your officers cannot expect our youth to respect the rights of others, and not steal from them or harm them, if they themselves are victims of illegal violence from police officers.

Please have police trained to perform their duties within the law. Their violence just leads to more violence and crime as the cycle spirals out of control.

Three young members of Youth For Change were ‘abducted’ by police off the street in Kimbe one afternoon recently. They were on their way home from a week-long training workshop for youth on Family Violence and Community Healing. They were “interrogated” in the back of the vehicle and then released.

They had spent the whole week with more than 70 others finding solutions to youth crime and violence, including alcohol and drug misuse. They had contributed their ideas to strategise genuine change. Then this.

PNG: Where Your Kinas Buys More

It is amusing to watch our politicians continue to become researchers researching into international financial schemes like WB, IMF, Exim Bank, ADB, EU, Ausaid, UBS, EU for soft loans development funds, financial aid to survive. Virtually for almost 45 years these financial institutions have been the proud sponsor for Papua New Guinea existence.

The reason why Papua New Guinea, lag behind in terms of development is because our politicians have come to love ‘handouts’ more than formulating self sufficient policy platforms of their own. It is the same mental laziness and myopia that makes Papua New Guineans to blindly follow false prophets and pyramid schemes in spiritual marketplace, and in politics we worship the most corrupt thieves of public funds.

The presence of handouts mentality legalizes and normalizes the plundering of countries’ natural resources. Our Mineral Laws become the source of economic exploitation. Moreover, foreign assistance legalized plunder and accelerates the exponential exploitation of our resources. Henceforth, the roots of our underdevelopment are neither poverty nor corruption but Politicians handouts mentality drains Papua New Guinea of its resources at the expense of ordinary citizens. Even worse, it deprives ordinary folks of their God-given right to self-determination….

Law, order & Planning for resilient island communities

26 March 2020

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is implementing a K93 million Climate Investment Fund grant to secure greater climate resilience in small islands and atolls. The project started in 2016 and will end in 2021 in Bougainville, Manus, Morobe, East New Britain and Milne Bay. Some 24 islands and atolls were selected from these provinces to mainstream climate resilience in development plans focusing on vulnerable communities.

There will be three main components, firstly, climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning for the targeted communities.

A climate change vulnerability assessments uses scientific information to describe the degree to which resources, ecosystem and other sectors are affected adversely or beneficially by climate variability in the selected islands and atolls. The assessment also includes an assessment of the sectors’ ability to adapt.

The project will establish a small grant facility to finance community-based projects including the installation of 200 water supplies and 100 sanitation facilities. There will also be training of locals from the targeted islands.

The second component covers sustainable fishery ecosystems and food security. A sustainable fishery is one harvested at a rate where the fish population does not decline over time. Sustainability can be threatened by changes in climate patterns.

Experts warn of PNG health catastrophe

30 March 2020

PNG has so far confirmed just one coronavirus infection (an expatriate later evacuated to Australia and later found to be negative) but public health specialists and development workers caution that PNG’s high rates of poverty, poor nutrition, threadbare health services and pre-existing health problems such as tuberculosis mean the country of eight million is highly vulnerable to the disease.

Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program director Jonathan Pryke said there were only about a dozen ventilators in Port Moresby and only a couple in other parts of the country.

Mr Pryke said the country’s health system was already stretched to the limit dealing with serious endemic health problems including malaria, tuberculosis and diabetes.

Ann Clarke, project manager for the non-government organisation Businesses for Health: TB and HIV, said an outbreak of Covid-19 in PNG, particularly in Port Moresby and other large centres, would be “an absolute catastrophe”. Dr Clarke said respiratory problems and diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and asthma were prevalent, accounting for a third of the country’s total health burden. The most recent available data show that in 2018 there were 37,000 active cases of tuberculosis alone, resulting in 4700 deaths.

Water Aid PNG country director Rachel Payne said in settlements in major urban centres like Port Moresby and Lae it was not uncommon for up to 15 people to live in a house, and access to water was very limited. Ms Payne said 60% of people lack access to safe water and just 2 per cent have somewhere in or near their home where they can wash their hands.

African Swine Fever Hits Mendi.

Post-Courier – Monday, March 30, 2020

While the coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on the world, the African Swine Fever (ASF) has arrived in Southern Highlands Province and has already killed as many as 1500 pigs in Mendi, Upper Mendi and Nipa districts.

Deputy provincial administrator Febik Simon said, “We urge the people of Mendi and nearby provinces to immediately report any sick pigs in your area. Likewise, do not move your pigs or carry pig meat out of your respective districts and provinces. “This will prevent the further spread of the virus,” he said.

 “Pigs are not just a source of protein but are also a commodity and we have to address this issue immediately. I request support from the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, NAQIA and other development partners and stakeholders to help SHP fight the disease so we can contain a breakout in the country.” Community leaders from the Waparaka ward Osborne Kiluwa said the disease is threatening pigs in the Highlands.

Let’s learn important coronavirus lessons

25 March 2020

| My Land, My Country

LAE – So it’s a global pandemic with well over 16,000 dead already, 380,000 infected and less than 103,000 recovered.

It was a national health worry. But within days, it became a national emergency.

The prime minister taking advice from the National Security Council, a state of emergency declared and police commissioner David Manning appointed emergency controller.

For the first time in Papua New Guinea’s history, all the politicians and all the top bureaucrats are in the country. None of them want to be overseas.

Even the crooks who stole from Papua New Guinea’s health system and made millions from bribes want to be here in a country which is largely COVID-19 free (at least for now).

The irony of it all just gives you warm fuzzy feelings. What a beautiful example of poetic justice.

Australia, Singapore, China and the rest of the world are the least attractive places for anyone right now.

Every public official who thumbed their noses at PNG’s health system and went overseas for medical treatment now expects our underpaid doctors and nurses to build facilities that will be COVID-19 ready in weeks.

Big ask.

Oops! Why didn’t we invest in the health system and build it up for our people? Maybe, just maybe, one day we would need to use it. That day has come. A bit early, I must say.

Here is another piece of irony for you. The safest places in PNG right now are the villages where up to 70% of health facilities are closed because of lack of funding and lack of medicines.

Hundreds of villagers have been in ‘self-isolation’ for decades. They don’t have to maintain ‘social distancing.’

A lead team member in Morobe’s COVID-19 response team, said on Saturday, “the safest place right now is in the villages; they can easily self-isolate.” I didn’t say that, he did.

While there are reports of urban dwellers panic buying, food security in the villages remains constant.

The Western Highlanders will be complaining about having too much kaukau, potato, broccoli and cabbages because interprovincial travel has been drastically reduced and the Lae Market is closed.

I’d rather complain about having too much healthy food than about too many deaths from COVID-19.

The Papua New Guinea Defence force has been called on to provide security with the police. They have a funding shortage, planes that are grounded, facilities that have been screaming for government attention for decades.

They’ve been put on alert to be battle ready against COVID-19. Big ask. But I don’t doubt their abilities.

But let’s buy them the equipment, uniforms, vehicles and training. With our money. Let’s make them a force to be reckoned with. Give them the planes and the choppers so they can support us with pride.

Let’s not wait for a global crisis to do that.

We face an economic crisis brought on by COVID-19. If there was any time in history to invest in agriculture (and I don’t mean oil palm), this is the time. This is the time to plant for the next 6-12 months to increase food security.

But at the same time, we should be building systems for the future when the rest of the world collapses around us.

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