Where Corruption Is Legal

Guest post by Guest Blogger Troy Rako


PNG is losing its best men and women. PNG is losing its brightest men and women. PNG is losing its righteous and conscientious men and women. It is losing them not to death but to migration.

Good people are desperate to leave this country, and that should scare all of us! Imagine what happens when that happens. A country where only the wicked prosper.

You see, I wish PNG were only corrupt. I wish that was all we had to deal with. But no, PNG is far worst than that. We are not only corrupt. We HATE and FIGHT incorruptible people. We actually hate the few good people amongst us. We see them as a threat to our survival because it seems the only way people get ahead in this country is through corruption. And the reason why so many are against the proposed sit in Protest this Friday.

So, it is no surprise that good people naturally do not find a safe haven in PNG. Good people in PNG are endangered species; not to mention the fact that they cannot even get ahead because the surest and fastest means to getting ahead is through the ‘C’ word – Corruption.

The politicians that win elections are the corrupt ones.

The pastors with the largest congregation and grandest centres are mostly the corrupt ones.

The young guys, girls and youths in general with the best apartments, most exotic cars and material things are mostly the corrupt youths. (Except in cases of inheritance/wealth transfer).

The richest civil servants or employees are usually the corrupt ones. I can go on and on.

Ours is a country where meritocracy is dead. If you want to get ahead and go far, don’t bother honing your craft. Just know how to play by popular rules. Learn to please those in charge. Learn to appease corruption. The result is that good people will excuse themselves. They show themselves the door.

Corruption is not merely a crisis in PNG. It is a culture. To get anything done (and I mean, ANYTHING!) you’d have to tip your way through. Everybody expects a tip. Sorry, scratch that, everybody DEMANDS a tip before they’d do their job! Their salary is not enough motivation. Yet if you fail to promote the same people or send them on international training, you are an enemy of progress. It’s one of the reasons some of us left the Civil Service. Still, we see people being promoted and elevated. The promotion and elevation by corruption.

Yes, in PNG salaries alone do not motivate the workforce. Employers are guilty. Employees are guilty. Civil servants are guilty. Politicians are VERY guilty. Avarice and discontentment have eaten deep into our national consciousness.

There’s absolutely no way good people would thrive in such a hostile and toxic environment. The only option left for them is EXIT! They’ve got to find a place that best suits their moral and intellectual makeup. A place that welcomes normal people. A place where black is black and grey is not half white but grey. A place where talking like a normal human being is not seen as abnormal. A place where you are not nervous to speak sanely!

If you’ve ever thought about leaving PNG you are not unpatriotic. You are truly unwanted. This country frustrates you because you are sane. Only insane people feel at home in PNG. That is the bitter truth.

Haven’t you ever wondered why our best brains and best Papua New Guinean success stories come from abroad? I’m talking about good, personal success stories. That’s because good people always blossom in good environment. They find their niche and nest easily and BOOM! They explode!

Truth be told, the most conscientious, most humane, most affective, most effective, most tolerant, most righteous and brightest Papua New Guineans are abroad. Most of them were here, until they ‘escaped’ in order not to lose their sanity.

Corrupt people cannot survive in incorruptible places and incorruptible people cannot survive in corrupt places.


 

 

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“Academic Cartels”, PNG Medical Society & PNG Medical Symposium: The Need For Robust Transparent Scientific Debates.

This year marks another year for the PNG Medical Society hosting the annual Medial Symposium, this time in Madang Province. Timely and appropriately in Madang too since the Divine Word University has commenced its own MBBS program for doctor training in the midst of much controversy and debate within the PNG medical fraternity. The public has not been engaged as much as one would expect perhaps from a lack of insight into the running of an MBBS program. But I am sure a good number of middle class parents are happy with the news because they have an alternative to send their children to study medicine should they wish to.

I have been a keen participant at the annual scientific meetings from my medical student days while researching at the Sir Buri Kidu Heart Institute when conducting my research on betel nut chewing and effects on the cardiovascular system. And over the years I have noted a growing trend at the meetings that I think may hinder scientific and medical science progression in PNG. I have noted what can termed an “Academic Cartel”. This is similar to financial and drug cartels who promote and protect their interests and destroy others who stand in their way.

A handful of PNG academics and institutions appear to decide that a particular domain of health in PNG is worth researching or funding and over the years has become “their domain”. These “academic cartels’ also tend to promote their views  on the subject matter while dismissing and make conscious efforts to propagate and promote their opinions. They have over time become to be known as the “experts” in PNG. Young PNG doctors and medical scientists are afraid to speak up in scientfic meetings and offer a differing opinion to these academic cartels’ research or opinions.

I also think that medical scientists from other countries who come to PNG to conduct medical research also strengthen the “academic  cartels” by supporting the existing view in PNG rather than work with other young medical scientists in the various hospitals who would prefer to offer a differing opinion.

In my opinion this trend is worrying and the establishment of the second medical school in Madang at the Divine Word University is welcoming and offers a way for young medical scientists and academics to academically challenge the status quo within the medical science research community in PNG (in a positive way) and offer alternative routes and pathways to improving health in rural PNG. The news of another medical school to be established in Goroka at the University of Goroka is also welcoming and is in the right direction.

 

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Primary Health Care Remains PNG’s Greatest Priority Health Challenge.

After more than 10 years of being declared Polio free by the WHO, the disease is back! And there are many other diseases that were once on the decline in PNG are now back and the number continue to increase each year. These re-emergence of diseases once thought to be decreasing is a direct reflection of the declining and now fragile public health service in PNG.

A rapidly increasing population (around 3% p.a) compounded by constraints in health resources has resulted in a decline in the quality of primary health care in PNG. I also think a major contributor to disease outbreak is the uncontrolled growth and unregulated growth of settlements in PNG creating the ‘urban poor’ population. When settlements spring up without planning for other support services such as water, sanitation and health service, diseases such as polio and other vaccine preventable diseases start to emerge. And that is what we are seeing in the urban PNG.

The focus of training for the health workforce therefore should be public health and primary health care. Much has been written about the resource constraints for the health service but this has to be fixed, focusing on resourcing urban clinics and rural health centers for the delivery of basic primary health care and public health services.

 

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Sorcery & Witchcraft in Papua New Guinea: How Can Health Workers Stop & Prevent The Killings & Torture?

Every Papua New Guineans believe in sorcery and witchcraft, no matter how educated they are! And this is from experience. Do I believe in sorcery and witchcraft? Let’s just say I believe in Science.

Frankly, I believe the health sector in PNG and particularly the professional health organisations like the PNG Medical Society or the other professional specialist organisations are not doing anything to combat sorcery related killings and torture in PNG. In fact, health workers in PNG are partly to be blamed for what is happening. How do I do know?

Let’s face it, rural health services are non-existent in most parts of PNG. So when someone comes in very sick and the health care worker is not sure of the diagnosis, they commonly tell the relatives – “em samting blo ples” (meaning = it’s caused by black magic). This has been going on for many years in rural PNG, and even in major hospitals in PNG. I think the health care workers just gave up educating their patients on the cause of diseases, ie, the medical science of disease. And over time, this was accepted without question by illiterate and partially educated rural people and because it was coming from a professional health worker so it must be true! That black magic is real and it can cause disease in people. So overtime, people in rural PNG accept the status quo and don’t bother going to health centres for treatment (besides it may be closed 80% of the time! Because of corruption, lack of finance etc etc..).

With so much being reported in the main stream media and social media about sorcery related killings and torture in rural PNG, I have not heard or read about what health professionals in PNG have decided to do. The focus seems to be on legislature changes related to sorcery and witchcraft. And bring the perpetrators to justice. Yes that’s good. But what about on going education and awareness of diseases, what causes them and that disease conditions are preventable and treatable. I think this is an important long-term strategy to prevent sorcery and witchcraft related killings and torture in PNG.

Now to the role of forensic pathology in sorcery and witchcraft related killings and torture in PNG. The call to make sorcery and witchcraft related killings to undergo mandatory forensic autopsy must be supported by the wider healthcare sector in PNG. This will enhance the long-term strategy of educating and public health awareness among the people.

 

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Dengue in Port Moresby and Future Trend

Since leaving academia and commencing in my new role as a GP with a private medical provider in Port Moresby, we have seen an increase flu-like illness, fevers and chills resembling malaria. What most people do not know is that Dengue is currently more commoner than malaria in Port Moresby.

Dengue is transmitted by the aedes mosquito species. They are quite easy to recognise. They are black and have a white stripe across their abdomen. Just Google “aedes”. There are different types of aedes mossy species but as long as you know the big name aedes is sufficient for Joe Blo and Jane Doe.

I have had patients coming in self diagnosed with malaria and tests comes back as dengue positive. On a side note, pharmacies in Port Moresby are still selling chloroquine when it was stopped by PNG NDoH sometime back! For the last 2 months, over 90% of the patients I see daily have presented with these symptoms.

Diseases such as dengue that have a vectors whose behaviours are directly determined by the environment tend to change with environmental change and it is no surprise that the rapid developmental changes in Port Moresby has resulted in a shift in vector behaviour directly changing disease pattern in the Nation’s Capital.

Dengue in Port Moresby is here to stay and the best prevention (and the cheapest) is preventing mosquito bites.

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