By ANDREW ALPHONSE
THE international medical team, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)-Doctors Without Borders who were evacuated from Tari General Hospital three weeks ago following a spate of attacks on them by drunken local youths have returned.
An interim MSF head of mission in Port Moresby confirmed that part of the team returned at the weekend, adding that MSF would issue a statement on their return during the week.
Local MSF sources in Tari said from the eight-member team evacuated just before Christmas, five had returned.
Three of them,a surgeon, an anaesthetist and a nurse arrived aboard an Air Niugini flight yesterday while Tari project coordinator Claire Chenot and a logistician arrived last Friday.
Hospital CEO Dr Bravy Koensong said the return of the MSF team to Tari followed beefed-up security at the hospital with additional 10 men recruited recently by international contractor based in Tari, Curtain Brothers (PNG) Ltd.
Dr Koensong said the hospital now had a security strength of 20 men working day and night shifts.
He thanked Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru for arranging with Curtain Brothers for additional guards.
However, Dr Koensong said the hospital still needed continuous funding from both the Health Department and the provincial government to operate as a fully-fledged hospital.
He also expressed his disappointment in the prolonged delay by politicians and bureaucrats in signing the Tari hospital memorandum of agreement (MoA) which would officially declare Tari as a general hospital.
The MoA would transfer all powers, including management and administration of the hospital, from the provincial government to the Health Department.
Dr Koensong said the return of the MSF team was also through a memorandum of agreement (MoA) he signed last month in Port Moresby for MSF to extend its services in Tari for another two years.
He said during the three-week absence of the MSF team from Tari, the hospital’s five national doctors filled in the void and continued providing medical services to the Hela population.
Meanwhile, Tari mayor Ken Arawi welcomed the return of the MSF team, saying the actions of one or two individuals had made the people of Tari and Hela suffer.