By JOYCE INGIPA
As they say: Like father, like daughter.
That is certainly true for Dr Etami Betty Koka who was recently recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours for her services in the past 30 years to the health sector. It was just like her late dad who also received the same recognition for his contribution to health services.
“This is a big moment for me because I am finally getting recognised for my services to the people of my province and country in the past 30-plus years. I am humbled to receive this medal and I know my father would have been very proud if he was still alive today because he himself was a recipient of the same medal.”
Etami, 56, is from Sirunki in the western part of Enga. She had dedicated more than half her life serving the people of Enga and PNG in the health sector.
Her late father had been also a health worker in Enga. It seemed inevitable therefore that as a little girl growing up, she developed a passion of helping sick people. She was among the 87 people who last week received their awards from Governor-General Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae at Government House in Port Moresby.
Etami held various roles in a number of organisatons before joining the Enga provincial health authority. She served with the United Nations Population Fund as a programme specialist. She was also a technical adviser with the Health Department. She also headed the rural health department from 2014 to 20167 with the Divine Word University.
She attended the Sirunki Lutheran Community School run by the Lutheran church in the 70s before moving to Laiagam High School. In 1979 she completed Grade 10 and accepted into the Sogeri National High School.
“ I guess it runs in the family. My father was a health worker, I am also a health worker and now my daughter has taken after us.”
“Back then there were no secondary schools. The only four national high schools that existed were Passam, Kerevat, Sogeri and Aiyura.”
After completing Grade 12 in 1981, Etami pursued a diploma in allied health science course at the Para Medical College in Madang which she completed in 1984.
After working for the department of health for some time, she decided to upgrade her qualification.
She pursued a masters degree programme at the Wollongong University in Sydney. She graduated with a Master of Science degree specialising in mental health in 1997.
It was not enough. So in 1999, she did her doctorate which she completed in 2004.
The single mother of four is today the public health director of the Enga Provincial Health Authority based in the province.
“Education has no limit. If one believes in oneself, the sky is the limit.
“Hard work and perseverance are the key to success. There is no secret or magic behind it.”
She has been advocating against sorcery-related violence in her province which has cost the lives of many women and children.
Her daughter Gloria is also following in her footsteps and has already become a health extension officer.
“I guess it runs in the family. My father was a health worker, I am also a health worker and now my daughter has taken after us.”