Sir Michael adds salt into wounds of heart patients

Letters, Normal

The National, Monday 20th August, 2012

THOUSANDS of Papua New Guineans are living today with scars from having lost loved ones to heart diseases as they could not afford
treatment overseas.
Many more are now living in an­xiety, distraught by the inability of successive governments to deliver advanced heart care through our for­ever dysfunctional health system.
Indeed, many today live in hospital wards throughout the country with broken hearts.
Those of us who care are hurt by the inconsiderate words from people who should have addressed the lack of care in heart disease.
I refer to Sir Michael Somare recalling his aortic valve replacement surgery in Raffles Hospital during his vi­sit to Port Moresby General Hospital to see recipients of Operation Open Heart (OOH) programme (The National, Aug 10).
His comments on being happy to see Papua New Guineans remaining in the country instead of going overseas for treatment is regretfully shallow and rubs salt in the wounds of those who could not qualify for the annual programme or those who struggle at our own expenses to provide a better standard of heart care without proper equipment and facilities.
Sir Michael has lost touch with not only the heart care services but the status of the healthcare system in PNG.
He spent K2 million of taxpayers’ money to get his heart valve replaced in Singapore, while ordinary Papua New Guineans seeking treatment in Singapore have spent nearly K20 million from their own purses over the past five years.
PNG health workers need higher levels of training as well as equipment and facilities.
We simply do not have those here.
Politicians, businessmen and executives of government and corporate sectors can afford treatment overseas, not ordinary Papua New Guineans.
Today, I have many unfortunate broken hearts, as their condition has deteriorated into an inoperable state whilst waiting for the annual OOH.
In the past nine years, Sir Michael’s government boasted about turning the country’s economy around on the back of high commodity prices.
However, there is nothing to show for in terms of heart care treatment in the country.
Papua New Guineans who can afford must and will continue to be referred to Singapore.
I hope people who feed off the masses refrain or be extremely cautious with what they say in public.
It hurts relatives, patients and those of us who care.

Dr Leslie Bahn Kawa
Consultant Physician &
Cardiologist, PMGH