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.

Posted in Uncategorized (“Doc see me”) Will Change Telemedicine in Rural & Remote PNG.

Telemedicine platform stand to make a huge impact in increasing access to doctors in rural PNG.

I have been writing and researching about telemedicine on my blog since 2007 and just today I Googled around looking for a free telemedicine platform and came across ( Its so easy to use and has a free version that even doctors in countries like PNG can use at very minimal cost. I believe that this platform will make a huge impact, in fact a giant leap in improving access to doctors in the developing world.

It is is only a matter of time before it takes off in countries like PNG where there are so few doctors and a very large rural population that is unable to have access to a doctor.

I predict once in use, community health workers, nurses or HEOs will use this service to schedule doctors consultation clinics and they will be able to manage patients without referring patients to major district hospitals where it can be expensive for rural patients.

Thank you creators of I am already using it and enjoying it. This is what I was looking for!

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PNG Media Need To Get Facts About Cancer In PNG Dissected Accurately.

I feel compelled to write this post after seeing the editorial in The National newspaper. This blog has been an advocate for improvement in cancer diagnosis and treatment in all its forms. After seeing the editorial, I feel the need to write this. See editorial at the end of this post.

The newspapers in PNG have a duty to educate the PNG public on different aspects of cancer. There are different forms of cancer. Don’t they know this basic fact! Radiotherapy is not the single best treatment for cancer, a combination of treatment modalities including cancer drugs are used. And you need to know the biological characteristics of the form of cancer (tissue or blood) before planning treatment. And for that you need a well equipped pathology laboratory and pathologists to characterise for you.  The journalists and editors need to educate themselves on these basic facts about cancer treatment planning before talking about cancer treatment in Lae. If you don’t know and don’t have the time, please ask the experts.


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Investment In Preventive Public Health Programs In Local Communities Will Reduce PNG’S Disease Burden By More Than 50%!

I don’t think buying more sophisticated diagnostic equipment or the availability of very strong antibiotics will reduce our disease burden. Having more doctors or nurses will not help directly either. Sure, these things may but it’s like catching overflowing water in a bucket by having more dishes on the side to capture the over flow. What we need to do is fix the tap that’s running freely!

What has happened to Preventive health activities in our communities and villages? Things like general cleanliness, proper latrines, access to clean drinking water, oral hygiene, enforcing our public health laws in towns and suburbs, creating health Programs for the ever growing squatter settlements and you can think of some more.

I find PNG people to be generally  unaware of of health issues when it comes cleanliness in Communities. Or are they just ignorant. They want to be paid for doing an activity. Why can’t people just do it for the benefit of the local community?

People have been brain washed by the cash economy. Middle class craving for lifestyles they can’t afford. Village people want to make a fast Kina, legally or illegally. All at the expense of their health or the communities’.

So what will it take to change this self destructive behavior?

The answer is obvious. Public Health Programs embedded into our hospital services, school curriculum, work place health Programs, in villages and communities. And these activities require money and trained people.

Now comes issue of health funding and management. I will leave that issue for a different post.

A greater challenge that only require sweat and time is community mobilization to promote and sustain good Public Health behavior. Leave a comment on how you think this can be done.

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