WITH great sadness, I learned of young cancer patient Ruth Kaupa’s demise on January 13, after following her brave fight against the disease for almost a year.
Erebiri Zurenouc’s Feb 1 feature article in The Weekender of The National reminded us of the life of the courageous young woman whose life was shared by different media outlets, and informed the public of the suffering of cancer patients who continue to die quietly in our country because our Government and politicians are too slow to act.
Kaupa’s personal life directed the spotlight on a neglected need, the need to get a Cobalt-60 radiotherapy machine into the country and having it in operation to treat patients.
Oncologist David Kundi has emphasised the need for the machine to provide radiotherapy as an additional treatment to surgery and chemotherapy within the country.
It is sad that after 43 years of independence, we are still not getting the basics right.
Yes, I am aware that we need the necessary legislations to be passed to operate a new Cobalt-60 machine, however, taking us years to act is a shame.
It shows that our politicians and Government do not seem to care about their people.
At this very moment, a few Papua New Guineans suffering from cancer may be raising funds to seek radiotherapy in the Philippines, or elsewhere, for more than K100, 000.
Imagine the many other patients who may not have the ability or support to raise K100, 000 as Kaupa and her parents did for her to seek radiotherapy in the Philippines last year.
What will those other patients be doing?
Just waiting on their sick beds to die?
It is very sad that even officials from the Health Department kept quiet the whole time last year
when citizens were concerned about the need for a Cobalt-60 machine.
With the passing of the Radiation and Safety Control Bill on Jan 24, we hope a Cobalt-60 machine will be in operation soon to prolong the life of the many cancer patients who are suffering in different parts of the country.
The comfort in this time of sadness is Kaupa’s story and courage was not in vain.
Her suffering and eventual demise have caused our lawmakers to wake from their slumber and get the necessary legislation process rolling to save lives of other patients like the brave young woman.
She will be remembered by some of us as the one who has led the fight of cancer patients to be heard and attended to by our Government and legislators.