Not serving the people

Editorial, Normal

The National

TWO events happened in the Morobe province last week that raise concern about the way the Government system works – a system that is supposed to be “serving the people”.
The first involves a group of nurses at the Angau Memorial Hospital and the second involves a Government minister on a brief visit to the province.
Now, the first occurrence.
A group of mothers taking their babies to the children’s clinic at the Angau Memorial Hospital were unceremoniously told by an arrogant nurse to take their babies away and find another clinic as there was no water at the hospital on the day. The clinic was closing for that reason.
Some mothers took their babies to the Milfordhaven Clinic at Papuan Compound only to find that the clinic was closed.
Firstly, babies needing medical treatment were denied treatment. Those taken by their mothers to the clinic to receive their immunisation vaccination were also denied the vaccine.
This matter raises serious questions about the way children are treated at the children’s clinic at Angau. It is not the first time that mothers and babies have been treated in this manner by the nurses there.
The clinic is supposed to be receiving children regardless of where they come from and checking them immediately to ensure they receive medical attention without delay.
All children must be immediately attended to by the clinic without question and the staff must be told in no uncertain terms to do that or look for new jobs elsewhere.
Papua New Guinea has the lowest health indicators in the whole of the Pacific region, with many children dying before they reach the age of five. The only way we can lower this statistic is for health workers, especially those dealing with children, to ensure that any young children presented at the clinics are immediately given the attention they need without delay.
Any delay could be risky for their lives.
The chief executive officer at Angau Memorial Hospital needs to look into the way children and their mothers are spoken to or treated by the nursing staff there. It is pathetic to say the least.
Not long ago, a young baby died while waiting to be treated at the same children’s clinic at Angau hospital. It took days before the hospital denied the child died while waiting but instead said it died while receiving medical attention.
The children’s clinic at Angau needs a complete overhaul to ensure it is children-friendly and that all children are looked after and attended to regardless of where they come from.
The second issue involves the Minister for Environment and Conservation Benny Allan, who visited the province last week to see for himself the extent of the pollution of the Watut River by the Hidden Valley gold mine.
Mr Allan was invited by the Morobe Mining Joint Venture company (MMJV) – the joint venture company of Harmony Gold company from South Africa and Newcrest Mining from Australia.
Two helicopters were hired to fly the minister and his delegation to Wau and the surrounding areas and then for an aerial tour of the Watut River down towards Lae.
As Mr Allan’s helicopter hovered over the Watut River, some 300 villagers living along the Watut River gathered at Sambio village to present a petition to him about the destruction to their environment and livelihood as a result of increased sediments from the mine site into the Watut River.
The minister overflew the people accompanied by executives from the mining company and civil servants. The people missed the opportunity to lay their concerns in front of the Government minister.
The minister heard the company’s version of the river pollution story but failed to get the side of the affected communities. He has not got a balanced view of the problem.
Mr Allan even refused to let Bulolo MP Sam Basil, who is the local Member of Parliament, accompany him on the trip.
Government ministers are there to serve the people of PNG – to listen to their concerns and address those concerns.
The Minister for Environment and Conservation failed in this regard to come down from his helicopter and spend 20 minutes of his time to listen to the Watut people.
The people of Watut correctly asked what the job of Government ministers is if they cannot come down and listen to the grassroots people.
Mr Allan has failed the people of Watut. Now he has to answer to their petition within 21 days or face a section of the Lae-Wau highway blocked by the affected people.