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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

North Fly riddled with Malnutrition and unknown fever

Jacob Marcos-NDoH Journalist

The North Fly district in the Western Province is anonymously riddled with malnutrition and unknown fever and malaria out breaks had slapped the resource rich province on the face. No deaths have been confirmed from those cases.

The district is also in the verge of danger following dilapidated conditions of health facilities, medicinal drugs not reaching health facilities on time, shortage of staff and many other administrative upheavals are opening doors for more life threatening episode.

Disease Surveillance and Emergency Response technical officer Ben Kapa and I had the privilege to investigate health effects on the recent El-Nino (drought) on health facilities focusing on water availabilities but interestingly, we had unfolded many eye opening and sad situations.

Many of the assessable health facilities like Ningerum, Rumginae, Matkomnai and Kiunga District hospital which takes in referrals from aid posts and other outskirt health facilities have problems with funding, staffing and facilities required urgent refurbishment.

Most of the important facilities like labour and surgical wards and emergency services were at stale, despaired and in sorry state.

Kiunga Hospital is embattled with two Chief Executive Officers and patients and staff were disarrayed and were given less hope of life.

It was interesting to hear of one senior officer from the Kiunga hospital demands for the closure of the hospital because of no funds and he presented the hospital meeting minutes to the district office. The news broke out amidst our discussions with senior officers from the district health administration and hospital staff.

“Make more matters worse, the two hospitals vehicles were detained by police in Kiunga a week ago because their registrations were expired thus make situations worse for night shifts, hospital secretary Giawi Giriha.

“We have not money to keep the hospital operational therefore, we charge the patients fees,” Giriha said.

“We have no preparedness plans as yet to handle massive causalities in major outbreaks. We have no funds to sustain its operation and we are trying to improve the internal revenue by user pay,” according to a report provided on the dry spell.

Furthermore, according to Giriha, the non-availability of Emergency Resuscitation Drugs have resulted in operating theatre to stop operations.

“There cannot be much help given to Emergency cases; it is not proper to just watch a patient die to non-availability of Emergency Resuscitation Drugs,” he said.

I had gosh-pumps running over my body because service delivery had always been inadequate and lacked transparency out there from my one-year experiences in the district.

We visited Ningerum Health facility the next day only to find out that similar problems existed. Medical equipment, water tanks and pumps were outdated. 

I once served there as a teacher at Nigerum High School in 2004 and realised not much has been done to the facility which caters for the district’s most populated region. The desiccated appearance of the facility reminiscences my struggles to obtain water when faced with dry spell.

There is no source of water supply for that government sub district administration which also comprised of schools, police, correctional service, business houses and the surrounding communities. 

According to Ningerum Health Officer in Charge, Peter Kamesiok, patients were advised to come with their own water for medication.

After getting their information, Ben and I drove further down the dusty Tabubil-Kiunga highway to visit Matkomnai, a health facility run by Catholic Church. The facility serves about ten thousand total population from ten big villages and takes about forty attendances everyday on top of their emergency.

Sister in Charge, Sanduku Philomena did not hesitate to give us full detail of health facilities being overlooked by authorities. 

Sr Sanduku even spent most of her time in the district including remote Nomad after her arrival into Matkomnai three weeks ago. She shared her experiences of health facilities in those remote areas only do little to save lives. 

Literally no one has died from the drought in the areas though food crops were affected. Obviously people lacked proper diet, according to Sr Sanduku.

I realised that she was also looked stunned by the unknown fever outbreaks despite her improvisation and daily tireless efforts to support lives. Attempts to find out about the causes of the diseases using Rapid Development Test (RDT) showed negative signs of malaria or typhoid for that matter.

Among other setbacks, Sr Sanduku claims that funding from the provincial and district government rarely reaches the area.

We further drove into Rumginae Health Centre, a facility that struggled to serve with distinction. Thanks to the Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea for keeping the fire burning.

It also hosts the community health workers training college. During the El-Nino, the people there walked miles to nearest Wai Mare River for shower and drinking during the drought but the very ill ones had never managed.

The health centre faces major problem with water because there were sixty patients to one water tank. There was no water filter and barely no aqua tablets therefore, the water was virtually unsafe to drink.

Medical Officer Dr Sharon Brandon said that there were 21 patients to one water tap. One of the Southern Cross remains untouched and unchanged for 40 years.

North Fly District Health Manager, John Larry confirmed the sad scenario in the district but he could not do much to help. Larry requested the Human Resource in Daru to help solve staff shortage problem.

Meanwhile he expected to see updated reports form the health facilities in his district while waiting for funding to commence from the government. 

According to Larry, to this date, the Western Province has not done its budget and the provincial administration’s position was still challenged.

He also claimed that District Service Improvement Programs funds have no reached his office since 2015.

Several attempts to get in touch with Provincial and District Administrators were unsuccessful.

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 5:20 PM. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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