Social Concerns Notes – July 2014
Whose children are malnourished and dying?
By Fr John Glynn WeCARe! Foundation. 21 July 2014
THE headline on the front page of the Post-Courier last Wednesday, Malnutrition Kills, was accompanied by Unicef statistics which are terrifying in their implications. One revealed that 45% of Papua New Guinea’s children have stunted growth. This means that, because they are malnourished from birth, almost half of PNG’s young people do not grow to reach their proper size and strength.
It also means that their brains are undernourished and so do not reach their full level of mental ability.
A report published last year by Australian and PNG researchers showed that about 80% of Papua New Guineans are functionally illiterate and uneducated. Now we are told that almost half of our children are growing up physically and mentally retarded.
Of course, the children who are suffering from malnutrition are not “our” children. They are not the children of the blessed 20% or so of the population who are educated, employed, and able to take care of themselves and share in the increasing wealth of this lucky country. The one child in 13 who dies before the age of five; the 14 in every hundred who suffer “wasting” diseases and die by the age of six or seven, and the rest who grow up mentally and physically retarded are the children of the 80% of the population who are illiterate, uneducated, and in many cases suffer from extreme poverty.
This situation should be completely intolerable and unacceptable to every thinking citizen of PNG.
There should be an outcry from every corner of the country for a war on poverty and ignorance. But, of course, it won’t happen. The poor have no voice. This 80% of the population have little or no access to radio or television, and cannot read the papers - which are not written for them in any case.
And you will not meet any of them on Facebook or Twitter. It is so easy to ignore them, and to live our lives as if they didn’t exist.
Em i no Wanpis
Post Courier July 22, 2014. By Gary T Bustin
HE APPEARED from nowhere when I opened the Land Cruiser door to unload our suitcases at Jackson’s International Airport. He reached in quickly and said in perfect English, "May I help you with these bags?" I looked him over and saw a frail boy with tattered clothes, dirty skin, and a big, bright smile. He was eager to do his job and seemed unaware that he was dirty and that his body was not well. My foreign guests, including an executive from a top children’s hospital, and I followed as he pushed our bags down the ramp and I remember thinking to myself that he looked to be about my own son’s age. When we went through security I asked his name in Tok Pisin and his reply, "Wanpis", which means "all alone", took me so off guard that I got choked up and had to turn away momentarily.
He took pride in his work and talked with international travellers in line as if he too was off on some big adventure. The more I watched him the more my heart ached for this little boy who obviously had the courage of a lion but with no one to care for him. When I inquired he told me that his parents were both gone and that he lived on the streets with his friends. …
PNG has a growing problem with street children as urbanization increases and family units continue to fall apart. The Tribal Foundation has been working in this area and has provided funding to Life PNG Care, a home that provides love and opportunity to as many children as their budget allows. Colin Pake has been the champion of this cause and as soon as I had access to email I sent the picture of Wanpis and asked Colin to find him and look after him. It was a few weeks later when I received an email from Colin that Wanpis had been found and that he was living in a drain with several other children. Colin enrolled Wanpis in fifth grade at Erima Primary School, looked after his needs, and took him to the doctor to get his health checked. Things went well for a while but Wanpis grew weaker and was unable to attend school. On July 15, 2014 Wanpis lost his battle with tuberculosis and his young life ended before it really ever began.
Anthropologist: Expose street kids problem
Post Courier, July 25, 2014 (Nancy Sullivan)
Over the last ten years, “street children” have become commonplace to towns, truck stops, mining camps and settlements. Across the country, children of broken homes and those sent from the village to town to live with relatives become frighteningly vulnerable to the street life: when parents and wantoks face hardship, these children are sent to work on the streets selling everything from smokes to sex, often straddling the realms of crime along with the informal economy. We produced the 2010 report Working Street Children of Papua New Guinea: A Public Policy Challenge.
But "street kids" is not the best term for them in PNG, because they bear little resemblance to the classic image of pickpockets and child gangs found in capital cities elsewhere. For the most part, they are not orphans (even if they have lost immediate parents, they often live with wantoks) and they work very hard for daily food and shelter. They make a living on the streets, and more often than not are providing for siblings, wantoks and even parents with whom they live. These are the youngest members of that population that has become collateral damage of rapid social change. They have fled their village homes from domestic violence, tribal fighting, overpopulation, and a million other symptoms of an economy moving at warp speed from subsistence agriculture to a working wage, and from traditional marriages to love matches and unwanted pregnancies and new forms of polygamy.
Migration across provinces, a spike in sorcery accusations against women, education without employment opportunities, have all put enormous pressure on what was once a healthy extended family life in the village.
Our research confirmed what many of us suspected already, that orphanages are not the best option for these kids, because they tend to generate landless kids with no ancestral identity. Our report recommended more support and acknowledgement of the many NGOs working for and with woman and children at risk, as they have proliferated, offering more personalises, less institutional responses to the problem. The "problem" is also different by gender, age, and location. What our team found was that, almost to a child, this wave of kids working on the streets is much like the kids in villages across PNG: they are bright, self-reliant, tasked with impossible jobs that they perform with aplomb, and desperate for a better family and home life than what the cities can offer. These are not thieves, for the most part, and many of them go home to parents with their earnings. But they need more food stations, refuges, and counselling or "big brothering" and "big sistering" than they can get right now….
The author is an anthropologist by profession and more information about her work can be found on her website http://www.nancysullivan.net/
Report: Child abuse rife
Post Courier July 25,2014
CHILDREN of tender age have been forced into sex and street work, an ILO report has found that:
- 175 child sex workers were interviewed. It is noted that an additional 12 child sex workers refused to be interviewed at a brothel where they operated
- The175 child sex workers interviewed were mainly girls. 14 male sex workers and 2 transgender sex workers were also interviewed, indicating the existence of both male and female clients who demanded the services of these young children.
- The survey found that most of the child sex workers interviewed lived with their families. The youngest child interviewed was 12 years old. Some children indicated that they had started getting involved in the trade from as young as 10 years of age.
- The survey also found incidences of child trafficking involving guardians and parents who sold their children to either clients or a husband.
- The children were engaged in commercial sex work (prostitution) through different avenues: brothels, guest houses, night clubs, along the streets, in settlements, and through pimps. The children were paid an average of 50 kina per client. All of the children in the study involved in commercial sex work consumed alcohol although they were under age.
- Children who participated in the survey of ‘street children’ were children working on the street (either staying at home with their families or staying on the street) and were involved mainly in activities such as street vending, trafficking controllers and in illicit activities and hazardous work.
- Children below the age of 18 years engaged in illicit activities and hazardous work were categorised as children in the worst forms of child labour. These are excerpts from the report "Child Labour in Papua New Guinea" released in 2011 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and sanctioned by the PNG Government.
Welfare officer: Street children deserve better
Post Courier July 25,2014
CHILDREN in Papua New Guinea are an important part of any society but they are not treated with high regard in some places. In urban centres such as Port Moresby, there are a growing number of them eating and sleeping on the streets, thus referred as "street kids". Yesterday this newspaper queried the Community Development’s director of Lukautim (Child Welfare) Pikinini, Simon Yanis, about the issue and he agreed that these children whom he refuses to call "street children" are on the increase. "Generally, you see a lot of children loitering, loitering everywhere. It’s a public knowledge," he said. He says as director of Lukautim Pikinini he feels ashamed when he is approached by these kids for money or food because the office he is in charge of does not have the means to help them. Mr Yanis has taken charge of the office since last year during a political impasse as well as a tussle over the leadership within the Department of Community Development, under which is the Child Welfare Office. But when asked whether he has any powers to do something, he says he is helpless, unless the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, which is being reviewed, is passed by the National Parliament. He hopes this will be done soon as the legislation has provisions that will pave the way for issues facing children to be tackled better. The LPA 2007, which replaced the Child Welfare Act 1961, was revised in 2009 and is now under review again to include important provisions, including issues relating to children in court and repealing of the laws on deserted wives and children….
Questions in the minds of people
Post Courier, 8 July, 2014
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has put questions in the minds of people when he did not adhere to the set procedures in law. Head of the Anglican Church Arcbishop Clyde Igara said this when commenting on the current political turmoil in the country. He said many people in the churches have been silent as they expected the Prime Minister and others involved in the current political saga to come out and openly tell the truth rather than keeping people in suspense, guessing and wondering what will happen next.
"They cannot be hiding at the back of their lawyers who at the tax-payers expense are battling it out to protect their selfish interests,’’ he said. He said PNG being a Christian country has its silent majority who are waiting for the Prime Minister and other political leaders involved to come out openly and declare the truths regarding the current political events. "And in doing so - the truths revealed to us will ‘set them free’ to continue to lead our nation with confidence and trust,’’ Archbishop Igara said.
When highlighting the cause of the current turmoil, he said the rule of law is same for everyone, including political leaders. "If the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill had submitted to the rule of law, his innocence would have been proven three weeks ago. But instead he had engaged his lawyers – to stay the warrant of arrest,’’ he said. "The staying of the warrant of arrest did not prove the Prime Minister’s innocence but induced many questions in the minds of the people….
Archbishop Igara said there are questions in the minds of Papua New Guineans that need to be answered. These include why disband one investigating body and create another? "Why sack the police officers and appoint new ones? Why sack the ministers and replace them with new ones?
"And the latest being the Prime Minister to withdraw from the legal battle and refer his case to the new Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki to handle. And the question now is how independent is the new commissioner to execute this task – in unveiling the truth which the general public are looking forward to hear.’’
Tired of poor governance, people yearn for a new dawn
Fr Giorgio Lucini | Catholic Reporter PNG
WE leave it to the courts to determine if presumed legal services by Paul Paraka Lawyers were really met with illegal payments by prime minister Peter O’Neill and others. We also stay out of the political wrangling that inevitably accompanies inquiries into government officials and politicians. Nor do we care much about political careers that may end or blossom according to court rulings. We just note that the soul searching the country is undergoing these days reveals a deep yearning for a new beginning.
Since independence Papua New Guinea has been marred by poor governance and corruption. Now people had enough. They had enough of dubious payments, uncompleted projects, political consent, and votes captured every five years with unfulfilled promises. Mr O’Neill and colleagues always repeat the same refrain: judge us at the election in 2017. But what if, by then, the country is financially, socially and morally bankrupt. Outgoing ministers and members of parliament are not going to pay a price for it, but the common people will suffer. There is something missing in a democracy when constitutional changes become too easy and parliamentary opposition is almost nil.
Thank God the judiciary appears to be vibrant and independent in Papua New Guinea.
But government and politicians should not blame the media when they prove to be the last bulwark of democracy. Who else is going to expose bad or wrong decisions when parliament is an accomplice and the judiciary cannot acquire necessary proof? The dream for a clean and honest running of the public affairs is palpable among young people. There is a third post-independence generation of Papua New Guineans emerging after the Somares and the O’Neills. They want a more mature democratic process and a totally transparent management of public wealth and funds. They are preparing for it. Please, don’t stand in their way.
Bishops call for peaceful solution
Post Courier, July 02,2014
The Catholic Bishop’s Conference in PNG and Solomon Islands has called on the PNG leaders to find a peaceful and truthful resolution of the current political turmoil. President for the conference, Bishop Arnold Orowae, said honesty and commitment for the common good are essential ingredients of worthy politics. "Moreover in a true democratic system political authority is accountable to the people it represents. It seems to us that at this time worthy politics and democracy are at risk in Papua New Guinea," Bishop Orowae said. "No person, including members of parliament, is above the law. There is the one law for everyone in Papua New Guinea. Yet recent events, with accusations, dismissals and political manoeuvrings appear to disrespect the Constitution and the rule of law," he said. "Our people continue to search for security and prosperity in a socio-political scene that seems even more confusing and complex," the bishop said. Bishop Orowae said instability and oppressive law enforcement reflecting the interest of a few is hurting our entire society. If this continues it will be detrimental for the nation. Investors confidence and the nations good image will be lost.
Referring to the Bible’s John 8:3, on truth, "As Church leaders we call for a peaceful and truthful resolution of the current political turmoil. The values we refer to are found not only in the Holy Bible, but are expressed in civil law, yet have their origin in God. In God’s name we call on the elected leaders of this nation to give priority to the respect for law, and for the common good and future of our nation," he said.
The National, 27th of June, 2014
THE recent revaluation of the kina adversely affects farmers and producers who would rather see a weaker currency, according to an economic expert. Paul Barker, the Institute of National Affairs executive director, was commenting on the recent downward trend of the value of kina after its upward spike two weeks ago following its revaluation by the Central Bank. He said there were forecasts of more inflow with better foreign exchange earnings (from the liquefied natural gas) although “that’s still down the track”. He said the lower kina “is, of course, preferable to for producers and exporters of agricultural products, denoted in US dollars, and for tourist operators that sell their packages in US dollars, which then converts into a higher kina value”. “The recent revaluation caused a major drop in commodity prices to PNG farmers and exporters,” he said. He said investors were depending on a healthy stable economy to do their businesses. He said they depended on political stability. He said the current political situation “is serious and needs to be resolved openly, transparently and in accordance with the law, in a manner which restores public confidence in the system and the leadership”.
RH has become the Government of PNG.
http://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/rh-has-become-the-government-of-png/ By Andrew Lattas. I have just arrived back from Pomio, where the clear felling of the bush and subsequent oil palm planting are in full swing despite the fact that the vast majority of villagers oppose both. Villagers are powerless to stop these activities which continue even though SABLs have recently supposedly been revoked. This looks likely to have the same status as the police commissioners public order (Dec 2011) that police be pulled out of logging camp sites. The police never were removed, and it is only their continued presence, violence and intimidation that prevents villagers from setting up road blocks to protect their land, gardens and environment. What is clear to me is that for most local villagers in Pomio the state has shifted away from them and is largely in the pockets of large Malaysian logging companies. These companies control important governments departments and officials in crucial departments such as Lands, Forestry and the police force. The same applies to other officials in District administration, Local Level Government, Provincial Administration and national government departments. Nearly all sectors of the state have been co-opted into coercive pro-development policies that seek to privatise land and resources without villagers consent. …
Police and company directors often tell complaining villagers that the land is no longer theirs but belongs to the state which has leased it from them so as to lease it again to the Malaysian companies. The state has become the crucial intermediary in the forced process through which villagers lose control of their resources and especially their land. Much of this depends upon the production of dubious reports by the Lands Department that collects and produces lists of signatures that are highly selective in that they are not the signatures of major clan leaders and of those who represent the majority of villagers….. Through the SABLs and the Private, Public Partnerships, the Somare government created two interlocking policies that have institutionalised corruption in PNG to a point where villagers find it almost impossible to achieve forms of justice concerning the fraudulent nature of state processes that have been effectively dispossessed them of huge areas of land. ….
(For full article see blog address above)
Solomon Star News. 03 July 2014
A CHIEF in Gela Constituency has called on constituents to refrain from selling their voter’s identification cards to supporters of intending candidates. Chief Michael Lalaoma of Kobe village made the call in light of the increasing incidences of the sale of ID cards in the constituency. He said: “It is a great concern for the community to see supporters of the intending candidates going around paying and collecting ID cards, particularly around Kobe and Salesapa villages.” He said people within these communities must be cautioned against this illegal practice. “I called on those involved to refrain from this illegal practice.”
The National, F4th of July, 2014
THE Department of Education will implement the standard-based curriculum next year. Steven Tandale, the Curriculum and Assessment Division director, said the new curriculum was a “body of knowledge and set of competencies that form the basis of a quality education”. The curriculum defines what students should know and includes the accompanying teaching contents. “It is a continuous process that provides the pupils’ performance data to teachers and students regarding their progress to achieving education standards,” he said. The four elementary syllabuses have been developed for English, Mathematics, Culture and Communities, and Home Language. This was the result of a teachers’ assessment last month during a workshop. He said using home language enhanced early childhood learners. “For instance, Engans speak one language. The same language can be taught in elementary school because it links and enhances their knowledge,” he said. Tandale said Education Minister Nick Kuman had already considered the standard-based curriculum to be used as the outcome-based syllabus was phased out.
Corruption in Bougainville is letting down all that we fought for 4 July 2014
AS a student without any connection with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) or Bougainville Administration, I have no influence over the decisions my necktie-wearing, long sleeved and polished booted bureaucrats do in their fine Buka offices and elsewhere in Bougainville.
But I can talk as a Bougainvillean who endured the pain of the 10-year crisis after 1988 and who has a desire to see my Solomon Island of Bougainville move forward into the nationhood that is our goal and which we paid for with our tears and blood. Corruption is an ailment affecting Bougainville, public and private Bougainville institutions and the Bougainvillean people. …
I am sad that my brothers and sisters and I are swimming in an ocean of corruption. Many foreign eyes are watching Bougainville and its politics. As Bougainvilleans we are tending to ignore the significant spot we have attained in the polity of the Pacific. In an alarming article in The National newspaper of 2 September 2013 (Auditor finds ‘massive corruption’ in Bougainville bureaucracy) Malum Nalu reported: Massive corruption among the bureaucracy on Bougainville is the order of the day as it pushes for full autonomy and possible independence, according to deputy auditor-general, Peter Siparau. President John Momis, concurred with Siparau, saying the audacity and arrogance of some public servants there defied imagination. It is true that Bougainvilleans are ‘a law unto themselves’ and this is a safe haven for corruption. Bougainville has a climate conducive to germinating and protecting corruption. Yet this contradicts our identity as long time fighters against exploitation, which is no different from corruption. ….
PNG Loop, 6 July.
The interest of students enrolling at cultural courses at the University of Papua New Guinea’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences is lacking. School Dean Professor Betty Lovai revealed this at the Regional Cultural Education Strategy forum yesterday. She said less and less students are taking up courses like Anthropology, Linguistics and Literature. “It’s come to a point where I sometimes question whether we should keep offering those courses.” “Sometimes we have just one or two students putting first choice for these courses while the rest are second and third choices,” says Lovai.
Linguistics lecturer Dr Kilala Devete-Chee says students signing up for her courses have dropped to as low as 15 from 80 five years ago. - See more at: http://www.pngloop.com/2014/07/06/students-lack-interest-cultural-courses/#sthash.iH5PX4se.dpuf
Findings on Family, Sexual Violence.
The National, July 1st, 2014
Family and sexual violence has been a problem in the country for ages but only recently has it been addressed, it has been revealed. Medecins Sans Frontieres has released its findings on how family and sexual violence had been tackled in the country and suggested ways to combat it. The non-government organisation has been treating people affected by family and sexual violence since December 2007. It has treated more than 18,000 individuals with emergency medical and psychological care in Lae, Tari and Port Moresby. These include women, children and men who had been raped, beaten and physically or sexually violated by family members, spouses, partners and parents. The report said: “Since MSF and partners began working with family and sexual violence in PNG, there has been a real progress. According to a report, its experience of providing medical care for survivors of family sexual violence in Lae, Tari and now Port Moresby has brought to light a range of challenges that health providers faced in responding to family and sexual violence. “But to overcome those challenges, a quality medical response with effective community awareness could deliver strong benefits for survivors by providing them with essential curative and preventive care. “At the same time services in collecting valuable data that make a key contribution to longer terms efforts to tackle the family sexual violence emergency in the country.”
CALLS have been made to the responsible authorities to apprehend people involved in dynamite fishing in Gela, Central Province. Dynamite fishing have been increasingly prevalent on Gela, particularly in Belaga district, according to Daniel Manedika of Kobe village. He said residents of Tavulea and Kobe villages have been practicing this method of fishing on a daily basis and this raises a lot of concern to the villagers. Dynamite fishing is the practice of using explosives to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection. He said dynamite fishing can be extremely destructive to the surrounding ecosystem, as the explosion often destroys the underlying habitat such as coral reefs that supports the fish. “We therefore call on Tulagi police and the responsible authorities to make regular visits to the area and to apprehend those responsible,” Mr Manedika said.
More rural doctors needed
Post Courier July 08,2014, 02:00 pm
Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand A group representing doctors in the country said critical shortage of doctors in rural areas is putting people's lives at risk. The president of the Society of Rural and Remote Health, David Mills, said there is no hard data on the distribution of doctors but most of its districts do not have a resident doctor. He further mentioned that "the reality for the vast majority of rural areas in the country is that if you get sick or you break a leg or you have an obstructive labour or something terribly serious, the reality is that you are just going to either get better or you are going to die from that and nobody may be there to make a difference one way or another." However David Mills said he remains optimistic about the situation as there are some very committed young Papua New Guinean doctors beginning to work in rural areas. Dr Mills also says he hopes to see the Government get behind rural doctor training schemes to encourage more doctors to work in remote areas.
Fish stock depleting at an alarming rate
Despite aggressively dialogue between the department of fisheries, the National government and other relevant stakeholders as well as their overseas counterpart, the fish stock in Papua New Guinea is being depleted at an alarming rate. It is a known and oft quoted widely in PNG and overseas media and discussed fact that overfishing in the high seas and coastal areas in recent decades has resulted in fish stocks depleting precipitously, though there is rarely any agreement between various concerned parties of how much the decline has been in real terms. “But there is no doubt that fish stock continues to be depleted despite measures and treaties that have been put in place. While such measures have helped raise awareness of the issue, success in curbing overfishing has been limited” reports Island Business. The fact remains clear that the current situation in PNG, like anywhere else in the world is driven by demand and supply. “As the world’s population increases and economic growth boosts affordability of more and more people to raise their living standards, the demand for protein based food increases. Island Business, however warns that the demand is expected to grow even faster in the next few decades and the race to supply that demand will undoubtedly deplete resources further before the balance that is sought from sustainable farming practices begins to make any difference
Experts: TB to be named public health emergency
Post Courier July 09, 2014 Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia
Health experts are calling for tuberculosis to be declared as a public health emergency in the country after a seven-month study into TB infection rates found that many people in rural areas are dying from the disease without ever being diagnosed. The PNG Institute of Medical Research study said rural areas of the population have some of the highest incidences of TB in the world. Researcher Dr Suparat Phuanukoonnon said that TB is poorly understood in the country, and many people die from TB without it ever being diagnosed.
She further claimed "[TB] has been neglected and the health system is also not functioning very well so a lot of TB [patients are] basically just sitting there in a rural area, in the village and have never been diagnosed, never been treated, so when we actually conducted our study, you see that we probably have a world-class TB rate," she told Pacific Beat. Dr Phauanukoonnon is calling on the government to treat TB as seriously as it does HIV/AIDS, and declare the situation a national emergency.
Abe’s Wife Encourages Girls
The National, Friday July 11th, 2014
YOUNG women of Caritas Technical Secondary School in Port Moresby have been encouraged to excel in their studies to become successful. The students were fortunate to have the wife of Japanese Prime Minister, Akie Abe, drop by their school for a brief visit yesterday after arriving from Australia for a two-day state visit. She told the students to utilise and showcase the technical skills that they have been taught at such an institution. She was pleased that education was one of the priority areas that the Japanese Government was assisting Papua New Guinea in. Abe was given a traditional welcome by the students upon her arrival on campus and was met by the wife of PNG Prime Minister Linda Babao O’Neill and were both escorted into the chapel. Abe presented gifts to school principal Sr Florentina Chao and Babao.| Source:
School demands students pay K250,000 reparation for sports death
THE Rosary Secondary School at Kondiu in Simbu Province began its third term on a dramatic note when students were told to show up with K100 before normal classes would resume.
The students were asked to jointly contribute a sum of K250,000 in compensation for the death last month of a Grade 11 student during a schoolboys rugby league match between Kondiu and Kerowagi Secondary. The relatives of the victim demanded that his school, Kondiu, pay the K250,000. The amount was divided among all students, teachers, and ancillary staff. Students were told to return to school after the second term holiday with nothing less than K100. When students returned to school they found that the payment had to be made before they could attend classes. From last Monday, the principal persistently demanded the students to provide K100 each. Classes did not commence and students were told to go home and return with the K100 compensation. During the week, many students were seen on the streets of Kundiawa with small yellow envelopes looking for district administrators, members of parliament and business houses to sponsor them. Angry and anxious parents convened to question the principal’s integrity and his authority for harshly penalising every student in this way. Parents demanded a better explanation and said that the school should meet the claim instead of demanding that students pay.
Govt plans to expand pension program
Post Courier, July 15,2014, 03:12 am
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has highlighted the government’s intention to extend the national pension program to all Papua New Guineans once they turn 65 years of age. Speaking at Taurama Barracks, the Prime Minister said it was the right of all men and women to be taken care of in their old age. "Due to the strength of the economy, I can tell you that our country can afford to look after our people when they retire," the Prime Minister said. "After working hard through their years, people need to know that they can relax after they retire and that the government will take care of them."
The Prime Minister said the pension scheme will be delivered as the next step of the current program underway to roll out a national identification program. "We have already started working on the pension plan for people over the age of 65. "Right now we are introducing a national ID program for the entire country that will register each and every one of us. "Once we have this in place we will have the statistics on how many people will retire each year, and then we can plan our budget accordingly."
Asylum seekers 'removed' from PNG
Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand
Refugee advocates say witnesses to a fatal attack on an asylum seeker at Australia's Manus Island detention centre in Manus are in extreme danger. Australia's Refugee Action Coalition says asylum seekers raised the alarm on Monday after Wilson Security guards allegedly removed two of their representatives and another asylum seeker, who has since been returned. The group's spokesperson, Ian Rintoul, says Wilson Security seemed to be responding to routine complaints about the use of the internet and phone. But Mr Rintoul says the three people were witnesses to an attack on February 17, when asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed and are extremely vulnerable. "There is no doubt that they have been in danger since the 17th of February and remain in danger. There are very powerful forces in Manus Island that do not want them to give evidence in any court of law about what they have seen." Ian Rintoul says Australia's Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, has a duty of care to guarantee asylum seekers' safety.
The National, Wednesday July 16th, 2014
The St John Ambulance workers did a tremendous job in the recently ended 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture in Port Moresby, health officer Rosemary Munaga said. She said she had only 20 first aid staff but they provided the best health service at the two week-long festival. Munaga said they treated 100 patients a week for sickness such as stomach aches, fever, malaria and diarrhoea. “Out of these 100 patients, 10 or 12 were from the other Melanesian countries but most were Papua New Guineans,” she said. She said some cuts and wounds were treated at the festival sites but the severe ones were referred to the Gerehu St John clinic. “This was our first time to go out to events and provide medication and do referrals and we successfully completed our task,” she said. “We will be fully prepared in fuure events like the upcoming 2015 Pacific Games.”
The National, July 17th, 2014
OF 31,945 people living with HIV in the country, 2172 of them are new infections. This was revealed during the National Economic Fiscal Commission conference in Kimbe, West New Britain last week. Deputy director ofthe PNG National AIDS Council Secretariat Dr Moale Kariko said prevalence was highest in the National Capital District and the Highlands region where 90% of all reported cases came from. He said the key population more associated with the prevalence included female sex workers, men who had sex with men and transgender individuals. He said a great challenge was that key populations were more difficult to reach due to stigma and legal barriers. Kariko said new infections, regarded as those infected from last year, were still difficult to establish except through modelling, adding there were 1000 new diagnoses or new reported cases in 2012. However, actual infections could have occurred years before but just been found. Kariko’s presentation during the conference highlighted that an estimated 26% of people needing Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) were still not accessing it. In 2012, 11,764 of the HIV population were on ART which was 74 %. Kariko said rates of HIV testing in sexual transmitted infections and Tuberculosis servicesalso remained low despite known high infection rates in STI and TB clients.
Revivalist churches dangerous campaign for 'faith-healing' AIDS
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/07/revivalist-churches-dangerous-campaign-for-faith-healing-aids.html#more 23 July 2014 Australia Network News | Extract
REVIVALIST churches in Papua New Guinea are promoting prayer as a substitute for medication to those with HIV, according to human rights groups. PNG is a deeply Christian society, and most mainstream churches are trying to improve attitudes to those living with HIV. But with poor medical facilities and a widespread belief in sorcery, belief in faith healing is growing.
"The original thinking in PNG, given the facts and figures around sexually transmitted infections and unwanted teen pregnancies - behavioural information - certainly gave us the idea that we were heading towards a sub-Saharan African style epidemic," UNAIDS country co-ordinator Stuart Watson said.
But that generalised epidemic has not happened. Instead, the virus has been localised to the Highlands, Morobe Province and the National Capital District.
Pastor Godfrey Wippon heads PNG's Revival Centres and says his is the fastest growing religious movement in the country. "It is growing because of healings, miracles, wonders, science happening in this ministry. The Lord heals," he said. On a beach in Port Moresby, revivalists gather to sing and watch as new recruits are baptised and speak in tongues. Pastor Wippon believes baptism and prayer can cure AIDS and even bring the dead back to life. Health workers have told the ABC revivalists visit hospitals and clinics telling HIV patients to throw away their medication. In a case that shocked many, one of PNG's first openly HIV-positive women, Helen Samilo, fell prey to the revivalist message.
Even though she was working as an advocate for anti-retroviral treatment, Ms Samilo joined a revivalist church, stopped taking medication, and died in August last year.
Financing health facilities and the free health policy in PNG: challenges and risks
Providing free primary health care is a key policy priority of the current Papua New Guinea Government. The Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has made reference to his government’s aspirations of ‘saving mothers the one and two kina’ that it can cost them and their children to visit health facilities across the country. The introduction of a free health care policy can be perplexing in the PNG context, considering primary health services should already be provided free of charge. Rather than enforcing existing laws and policies, the central premise of the new policy is to subsidise health facilities with direct payments in place of fees they would have collected from patients. While such an arrangement may seem sound in theory, the PNG Government has long struggled to find practical solutions for funding health facilities to deliver services.
The free health policy came into effect on 24 February, 2014 but has been met with apprehension from those tasked with its implementation. Health service providers and officials have expressed deep concerns about the implementation of the policy. Hospital managers have said that it could ‘cost people their lives’ calling it a ‘politicians’ policy’, while one prominent public official (who will remain nameless) has publically stated that health services are already weak in PNG and this free health policy could collapse the system. …
Survey findings from the Promoting Effective Public Expenditure (PEPE) Project suggest that health officials have good reason to suspect that the immediate implementation of the policy could well impact the ability of health facilities to deliver services. In September 2013, the PEPE project presented the preliminary findings of health survey data labelled ‘PNG’s lost decade’, which compared our results to a similar study from 2002 to show that health services had generally declined over the last 10 years. Significant weaknesses across the health system were revealed, such as deteriorated infrastructure, health workers not at their posts and shortages of available drugs despite large increases in funding to the sector over the same period. One key finding was the reliance on user fees for health facilities to deliver front-line services, as a common, reliable funding source was not evident from the survey data. Most health facilities do not submit budgets or plans in anticipation of receiving funding. Of those that do submit budgets, less than half receive any funding as a result and the average value of funding received is generally much lower than has been budgeted. (for the full article see the blog address above).
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