By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
DOCTORS Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) lost six years of research reports on drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and Covid-19 when burglars broke into its office on July 8 and stole K20,900 worth of digital hardware, Kerema police station commander Sr Insp Michael Pakyei says.
“The valuable research files were all stored in computers. The burglars carted away laptops, a satellite phone and a desktop computer,” he said. Sr Insp Pakyei said the medical reports were compiled from research conducted in remote areas along the PNG-Indonesian border and in Gulf, Western, Southern Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Chimbu and Central.
The burglars broke into the MSF office in Kerema town.
“These are foreign doctors who had to leave the comfort of their countries to come and do voluntary work on our remote communities where Government services are not available,” he said. “All their research work, data collected and recommendations for Western and Gulf health authorities to do their health planning are stored in those computers.
“Although the computers stolen are worth a total of K20,900, the research reports and data run into millions of Kina, given that international donors funded their research and the reports compiled will save countless lives in remote areas in the country.
“These reports were expected to be handed over to the health authorities by the end of this month.
“MSF worked closely with the authorities in line with the national strategy and their objective was to create a TB programme that is replicable and sustainable.
“And now they are all lost and no one knows the thieves.
“The provincial health authorities will now have to spend their own money to do the same research all over again.”
Sr Insp Pakyei said MSF came to Gulf in 2014 to help in containing TB and just recently Covid-19 and their contract will end this year.
“MSF rents three lots of office space on the first floor of the Gulf health authority building in the Kerema General Hospital.
The building is also surrounded by the hospital staff houses.
“We are baffled by the break-in and ransacking because no one heard or saw anything when the thieves used a ladder to gain entry through the window of the logistics office,” he said. “Our investigations have been unsuccessful.”
By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK