Three weeks ago I was away working when I got an email from my wife telling me that my 1-year-old son was passing blood from his anus and he was being referred to Mt. Hagen General Hospital.
My son had been spiking a fever for about 3 days with upper respiratory tract symptoms. And like most health workers in PNG who tend to treat their own children, we decided to treat him with Septrin and panadol at home. After 3 days of treatment the fever was still there so my wife started him on infant camoquine. This is standard treatment guidelines for fever in children in PNG. However, he did not get better and started vomiting which continued for one whole day. By the end of the day he was severely dehydrated so was admitted to the mission hospital where my wife is a nurse. In the night he vomited black stuff which appeared to be old blood. The next day he started to pass old blood mixed with watery stool which progressed to him passing fresh blood. This was when he was referred to Mt.Hagen General Hospital.
I work on a remote exploration project so I informed my boss and got the company charter out the next day to Mt. Hagen.
Despite the acute on chronic shortages of drugs, ivi fluids and consumables, PNG health workers in the main hospitals work under very trying conditions to deliver quality care. What I have witnessed in Mt.Hagen General Hospital and now at Port Moresby General Hospital is just amazing. I must say here that lives are saved on the hard-working doctors, nurses, CHWs and the allied health workers putting their extra effort. Not because they have the best conditions to work in and the best of things to work with, it is the human touch into their service is what sustaining PNG right now.
And they deserve better!
We have the will and motivation to work but we need the political will to better equip our hospitals, operation theatres, laboratories and an effective drug procurement and delivery system. My son needs to do specialised tests to find the source of bleeding from inside his large intestine but because PMGH does not have the equipment, we now planning to take him to Singapore to get the tests done. Do we have specialists in this area? YES! Do they have the tools to work with? NO!
So come on Hon. Health Minister and PM, put money where your mouth is and help the PNG health workers do their job. Like Churchill once said during the WW II: “give us the tools and we will finish the job”. Come on Hon. J.M Graham and Hon. P. Oneil, PNG Health Workers Deserve Better.