Long awaited hospital

Another impression of the proposed hospital as seen from the front.

FOR Central to have its own hospital was the best news, one its people have longed to hear for some time.
It has been the only province in the country without a provincial hospital.
People from Abau, Rigo, Kairuku-Hiri and Goilala districts had to access medical assistance in Port Moresby city.
Agatha Aiva Manua and her family from Bereina, Kairuku-Hiri district have been camping opposite the Port Moresby General Hospital for the past six months.
The mother of five lived in a make shift tent to take care of her 16-year-old son who was diagnosed with brain tuberculosis.
Tents lining up along the roadside is a common sight.
People mostly from Central live in them to care for the sick.
Manua says: “Our village is very far and we cannot afford to travel to and from the village so we’ve decided to camp here while taking care of our sick family member.”
Each day, her two daughters Emily, 14, and Monica, 8, would watch over their sick brother.
While mum Agatha returns to the tent to clean, cook and feed the younger children, Philip, 12 years old, baby Henry and mother Miri Aiva Bunoni.
Agatha says, “Once in a while my mother returns to the village to bring back food supplies and few of our other basic needs like change of clothes, etc.”
She also said her son was discharged on Tuesday but they could not afford the PMV fares to return to Bereina.
Bringing her family home would cost around K250 via St John Ambulance.
She says they will try to find a way home once her husband John returns from the village.
“When my son was rushed here from the village health center, he was admitted at the intensive care unit (ICU).
“The doctors have informed us that we had been here long enough so they discharged my son from the hospital but he cannot walk and his speech has not been clear since his last surgery.
“I don’t know how we will take my son home when he is still unable to walk.
“He needs a wheelchair but to get one from the hospital will cost K600.
Agatha said their cooking and drinking water were fetched in small containers from the hospital and the family went into the hospital to bathe.
Agatha wants her son to fully recover before taking him home.

Grandmother Miri Aiva Bunoni and her family outside their tent. They are waiting to return home to Bereina district after spending six months in this makeshift home while attending to a sick family member in Port Moresby General Hospital.

The nearest health center is not fully equipped and does not have all the medical facilities and specialised medical professionals to attend to rare cases like her son’s.
Central has five district health centres, many sub-health centers and aid posts, some of which were unfortunately closed – to serve a population of about 500,000 people.
There is a health workforce of only 138 that serves this population, consisting of three doctors, 20 health extension officers, 30 nurses and 80 community health workers.
Central Health Authority board chairman Isikeli Taureka stresses that the province has a poor health performance compared to other provinces with the same or even smaller populations.
Taureka said: “Central is the only province in PNG without a provincial hospital, as we all know Central people have been sharing the Port Moresby General and Gerehu hospitals with the rest of the NCD population for years as general outpatient and emergency cases.
“Sadly, many times especially recently with the large number of Covid cases, health officers have sarcastically told Central people to go to their own hospital – knowing very well that there is none.
“I suppose you cannot blame them – they are simply overworked and are just trying to limit the patient inflow.
“When you drive past Port Moresby General Hospital you see tent shelters at the nearby roadside.
“This is a sign that the families temporarily residing there are from outside Port Moresby and are relatives of people who have been admitted to hospital.
“This sad situation will be at least partly addressed by having our own Central Provincial Hospital near main roads leading to some of our larger population centres.
“Our Central Provincial Health Board will support the provincial and National Governments to progress this project.
“Port Moresby’s population is ever growing and the time has now come for us to have our own hospital to properly provide health services for our people.
“We appeal to all potential stakeholders, such as state-owed enterprisers, private companies, NGOs, churches and others to support the development of our hospital.
“We must remember that it is not just the building of the hospital that is important, it must be staffed, equipped, maintained, resourced and have sufficient operating expenses every year.
“I will be approaching some of the international and agencies to investigate the possibility of them contributing to a funding plan to support the hospital’s operations.
“We realise that the initial construction and further development of the hospital will outlast some of us – but it is our collective duty to set a foundation that will serve the current and future generations.
On Monday (Nov 29), a ground breaking ceremony was held at Bautama to mark the construction of a K500 million 300-bed provincial hospital for the people of Central and Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister James Marape said costs of roads, houses, electricity and other infrastructure in the new Central City at Bautama – adjoining the hospital – would take costs up to K700 million.
According to Central Governor Robert Agarobe the hospital, once built, will be a catalyst for change at Bautama.