IT is now 100 years since a member of the medical profession from outside Papua New Guinea first set foot in the country.
It is only 32 years since the first PNG doctors graduated from the Fiji School of Medicine, in Suva, and 18 years since the first graduation in Papua New Guinea.
Few developing countries have done so well against the absence of a written language and disruptions caused to education by two wars. Today, national doctors and nurses, in a modified Western mould, cover the land. However, aid post orderlies and health extension officers, not found in western medicine, are the strength of the health system. Their roles as the primary healthcare workers are clearly defined, and understood by the community. For 50 years there had been no plan, but only sporadic endeavours to train village health workers. From 1933 onwards Papuans were formally trained as medical assistants. In 1946 the concept to develop national health workers at all level was set in motion.
Only time can give an adequate perspective to these achievements and their associated philosophy.
Isaac James, DWU