Plumbing system of the human body

Normal, Weekender

The National, Monday 23rd January 2012

UROLOGY can best be compared to the plumbing system of a building.
The ‘plumbing system’ of the human body consists of the urinary tracts of males and females, and the reproductive system of males.
The organs covered in the study of urology include the kidney, ureters, urinary bladder, urethra and the male reproductive organs.
Urology, which is derived from the Greek term uron “urine” and logia “study of”, is a fundamental aspect in the study of medicine.
In PNG, however, there are only three qualified urologists compared to the overwhelming demand for urologists in the country.
Complications from the urological system of the human body can include injury from foreign bodies, tumors, cancers, stones and in males, prostate complications, among others.
While certain disorders can be treated through administration of drugs, others need specialists where surgery is required.
For the past 10 years a medical team of urology specialists have been visiting hospitals throughout the country correcting urological disorders of patients.
Many of these patients had to wait for months before an urologist made a visit and some were referred to major hospitals because the urologist could
not be able to travel to all hospitals due to funding limitations.
On the 7th of this month a team of urological specialists from Australia made a week’s long visit to Lae and treated 32 patients with urological disorders.
The team consisted of senior urologist Dr Donald Moss, anesthetist Dr Ross Philips, nurse Joy Taylor and national urologist Dr Osborn Liko.
Dr Moss has 35 years of experience in urology and has accompanied the team seven times to PNG.
He mentored Dr Liko when he was studying to specialise in urology.
Dr Liko who hails from Finschhafen in the Morobe province, is the country’s first urologist.
Their visit was made possible by AusAID through funding and The Royal Australian College of Surgeons for coordination of a programme called Tertiary Health Services (THS).
This programme was launched in 2000 and under the programme 15 visits by a team of urologists were conducted at selected hospitals throughout the country.
The recent visit made by the urological team to Lae was the last visit under the THS programme.
Many of us will have encountered a urinary disorder either through experience or by knowing someone who has had the disorder. For others it may be something yet to be acknowledged.
Yet many of us do not realise that to address these problems, a specialist or urologist is needed.
In the words of Dr Liko, specialists “apply fine tuning to an operation for quality service”.
Dr Liko spoke about two kinds of disorders, among others, he had encountered while traveling around the country.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) is a condition that describes the gradual enlargement of the prostate gland as a man ages. It occurs in 25% of man aged 55, and 50% of man aged 75.
When this occurs a man will experience frequency in urination and especially, during the night. There will also be a decrease in the force of the urinary stream and a sensation that the bladder is not completely empty. 
Dr Liko said these cases where common in the country and said 90% of the male population worldwide, would encounter BPH later on in life.
Dr Liko also spoke of a condition called fistulae, which is used to describe the abnormal connection of the urinary canal and the alimentary canal.
In normal circumstances, the urinary canal and the alimentary canal are separate and communication of the two canals could result in infection of the urinary tract.
Fistulae occurs in many ways and for many reasons, however, Dr Liko said fistulae could also occur if a pregnant woman with a small pelvis experiences prolonged labor and is not assisted by a qualified medical officer.
Dr Liko said a lot of the women with these cases came from areas that were remote and did not have access to health facilities or health workers.
The THS programme ended after the visit to Lae and will be replaced by a new programme called Health Education and Clinical Services. This programme will also fund further specialist visits in the future.
Dr Osborn thanked AusAID, the Royal Australian College of Surgeons and all the doctors and medicals officers from Australia and within PNG who had assisted in making the THS programme a success.