30/10/2013 14:34

Social Concerns Notes – October 2013

Law passed to protect family

The National, October 17th, 2013

THE Family Protection Bill was passed by Parliament to protect families and individuals from domestic and sexual violence, says a non-government organisation.
The Eastern Highlands Family Voice in Goroka has been addressing family and sexual violence issues by providing counselling, advocacy and awareness programmes. 
About 100 cases had been reported to the organisation between January and December 2012. 
The Goroka Base Hospital’s accident and emergency section reported about 800 cases of family and sexual violence from 2008 to 2011. 
The Eastern Highlands Human Rights Network Committee commended the government on the enactment of this new law. 
Chairman John Ericho said there was an increasing number of family and sexual violence cases reported to the Eastern Highlands Family Voice office and other service providers in Goroka.
He hoped that the new law would arrest, reduce and eventually rid of such cases. 

Reconciliation in PNG prison system

PNG Blogs, October 15, 2013 by Sonja Barry-Ramoi

The good news for the government and the private sector in Port Moresby is that Theo Yasause - as the Chairman of the Peace Committee at Bomana - recently helped organize a Peace Ceremony at the prison in which gifts were exchanged by inmates representing different regional factions – following ‘several fights’ over a number of years between inmates representing the Highlands and Southern region. The Parties to the Peace Agreement recognised ‘the need for a comprehensive settlement of peace to bring an end to the conflict that existed within the prison’ and affirmed their ‘commitment to agreed basic principles which calls for individuals to portray a spirit of brotherhood, loving kindness, and overall spirit of love and forgiveness as set out in the Word of God the Bible - as in love others as you love yourself’. Importantly, the inmates also gave ‘assurances to the management that there shall be no prison break-out and escape from the prison premises’ and the Correctional Services officers agreed ‘to conduct themselves ethically when dealing with prisoners’.

 “You all must be thankful to be here and take the opportunity to reflect on your past life. You all must thank God to be in prison otherwise you would have been killed by the law enforcement agency”, Opposition Leader and self- made successful logging millionaire Belden Namah, who had served time in Bomana for sedition over his role in the Sandline Affair, reportedly told the inmates after he paid a belated surprise visit to Bomana on December 30th 2011 to celebrate his 42nd birthday during which he donated K25, 000 to the prison staff and K20, 000 to the prisoners.

Free health care policy not reliable

Post Courier,
Sept 27

THE much-talked about free health care policy comes with uncertainties says one policy expert from the National Health Department.The policy will be launched by the Government next month.

Generally, there will be an increase demand by clientele;

* Affecting the moral performance of staff, supply and consumption of drugs and medical supplies;


* There will be exerted pressure on limited number of facilities, such as beds and equipment;


* Rural health facilities will revert to charging user fees if funds do not reach them;


* Quality services will be affected when funds are delayed;


* National referral system will be abused, such as patients will bypass Provincial health centre facilities to seek hospital based care;


* Large church run hospitals and health centres may be forced to adopt emergency measures such as shutting down facilities if operational grants from the government are inadequate in replacing the revenue.

OTML uproar

The National, September 26th, 2013

 LEADERS of mine villages and Community Mine Continuation Agreement communities in Western have rejected the Government’s takeover of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.
At a press conference in Port Moresby yesterday, the leaders warned they will take legal action against the State for the takeover, as well as for the massive environmental damage, given that it now has full ownership of the mine.
But last night, a spokesman for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill urged the “selected” CMCA leaders not to allow themselves to be misled by PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) or its agents.
Parliament last week approved the Government’s takeover of the mine.
The leaders, representing 162 villages in the mining area in North Fly, Middle Fly and South Fly, told journalists that the Government was only asking for trouble by expropriating the 63.4% shareholding in Ok Tedi held on their behalf by the PNGSDP.
“All 63.4% shares in OTML held by PNGSDP must be transferred immediately to the CMCA communities and mine villages so we become the major owner of the Ok Tedi mine,” spokesman Joel Dangkim said.


Men stand against violence

The National, September 26th, 2013

A GROUP of 30 male public servants are championing gender equality under a new programme tackling causes of violence against women. The men, from 19 government departments, volunteered to be part of the cause to eliminate violence against women by being role models. They signed a pledge recognising gender inequality as a root cause of violence against women. They promised to advocate for fair and equal rights for women and all people and will form a network to cooperate on changing behaviour.
The Personnel Management Department established a network of male advocates across the public service, funded by Australia through the economic and public sector programme.
Department secretary John Kali said men had an important role to play as strong and responsible advocates in helping to reduce violence against women. 
“It is time for men to take responsibility for sexual violence, financial and emotional abuse in the workplace and in homes and communities,” Kali said. 

Bigger state control of assets won’t help PNG grow

Rowan Callick, The Australian, September 27, 2013

… Many believe corruption has been the main cause of the debilitating levels of more general crime, which in itself inhibits broader-based economic growth including job creation, beyond the resources sector. Standard & Poor's sovereign ratings associate director Craig Michaels says that "because of the law and order problem [in PNG], resources is the only sector that attracts foreign investment". Ultimately, O'Neill chiefly will be assessed, as he well appreciates, not by how cleanly he governs -- though this of course does matter -- but by whether living standards at last start to rise to meet people's rightful expectations. If he can keep driving the economy at pace, then the benefits may start to flow more broadly at last. And this will bring the added benefit that members of the PNG elite may feel that if there's enough in the pool for them, whether they have their hands on the political levers or not, they can work together, or at least, to cease their constant internecine struggles. To date, O'Neill has done well, setting up the country for a more determined drive towards faster and broader development, hopefully one that can deliver jobs at last. That's what makes his move last week to nationalise Ok Tedi mine -- without yet naming any compensation payment -- the more puzzling….

Australian National University professor Stephen Howes, lists five risks resulting from the unprecedented nationalisation: to the operation of the mine under state control; to the credibility of the government, which has been planning a long-term sovereign wealth fund; to the use of Ok Tedi dividends; and to the SDP projects and its $1.5 billion long-term fund for the people of Western Province for when the mine closes. It would be odd, and unrepresentative of O'Neill's own views and his undoubted qualities, if he were to become sidetracked into carving out a bigger role for the state, which has fouled up so much of its core responsibilities in PNG.

Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and World Bank Release Report on Local-Level Justice in Solomon Islands

HONIARA, 18 October 2013 –The Government of Solomon Islands and the World Bank has launched a major research report outlining the key causes and consequences of disputes  in rural communities and the experiences of citizens in managing their problems and seeking justice. The report, Justice Delivered Locally: Systems, Challenges and Innovations in Solomon Islands, outlines findings from extensive village-level research conducted across Guadalcanal, Isabel, Malaita, Renbel and Western provinces by a team of Solomon Islander and international researchers. It is the first time a study of this nature has been carried out in Solomon Islands and is intended to assist government and others working to improve local-level justice service delivery. The research shows that while there has been a gradual withdrawal of state justice services in rural Solomon Islands since independence, especially court services and policing, the state is still viewed as a legitimate and important player in justice service delivery. The overwhelming consensus of the over 3000 rural citizens involved in the research was that a more present and proactive state is essential.

* Research participants identified various common causes and consequences of disputes:

Social order problems related to substance abuse, in particular the drinking of alcohol and consumption of drugs, mainly marijuana. In some locations visited, the drinking of kwaso, homebrew or beer and the smoking of marijuana was seen to overshadow all other community problems and frequently lead to antisocial and criminal behaviour.

* Land-related disputes and arguments that arise from government, donor or NGO spending, most typically in the form of projects. These disputes often relate to who will benefit financially from proposed developments. The presence or otherwise of logging was seen to be the single most significant predictor of community cohesion and disharmony.

* Family and marital disputes, particularly adultery and domestic violence.

The report discusses the systems in place to address local problems – kastom, the church and the state. Where it is working, the kastom system – mainly through chiefs – is the most commonly used mechanism to address community arguments and problems, with churches also playing a significant role. However, the report describes the increasing difficulties that chiefs and local leaders are having in dealing with some issues, including substance abuse and land disputes. A key finding is that no one system, including the courts, is able to deal effectively with disputes arising from logging activities.

http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/09/27/000356161_20130927130401/Rendered/PDF/812990WP0DL0Se0Box0379833B00PUBLIC0.pdf?cid=EXTEAP_Pac1  (12MB)

Murky Waters Run in Solomons Mining Boom

http://ramumine.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/murky-waters-run-in-solomons-mining-boom/

Stefan Armbruster | SBS

The Solomon Islands is at an economic cross roads. Ten years after the end of the ethnic conflict, investors are now looking at the country’s mineral riches, from which it also takes its name. Political and business leaders are meeting in Brisbane to weigh up the prospects, but it is a challenging investment environment. As Stefan Armbruster reports, in the Solomons land owners are also taking stock. The path of the once powerful Metapona River in Guadalcanal is blocked with a mass of dead trees.

Ben Afuga from the civil society group Forum Solomon Islands International has a stark warning, recalling the “tensions” and the trouble mining has caused in neighbouring Bougainville. “The government has to listen to the people, we have seen it happening around the world when resources that were suppose to be given to the people are not distributed fairly, people tend to cause problems,” he says. Dr Simon Albert from the University of Queensland is also critical of the Solomon Islands government approach. “The principle driver of major social and economic disasters at the mining sites, where you ‘haves’ at the mine site and the ‘have nots’ downstream, suffering the impacts by not receiving the benefits,” he says. “That’s exactly what’s happening at Gold Ridge and decades after other countries have learnt that lesson, the Solomon Islands and Gold Ridge particularly still haven’t learnt that lesson.” What of the environment and the blockage at the Metapona River? Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo is cautiously sceptical. “I wanted to find out the validity of such a report because if you go to the land owners, they will give you lots of claims, brain sickness will always find opportunity,” he says. “They might be absolutely legitimate but what I’m saying is that we need to have good and credible technical and scientific to verify those claims.”

Parish will discuss social issues

The National, October 2nd, 2013

 ALCOHOL, drugs and sexually transmitted infections are serious human issues affecting many people in Southern Highlands and need to be addressed urgently, a clergyman said on Monday.
Rev Walai Were, of the Tiripini Lutheran Circuit in South Wiru, Pangia, Southern Highlands, told of plans his Undiapu parish was taking to host a conference to discuss the issues.
“The gathering is basically to help people live a life free of alcohol, drugs and HIV and AIDS,” Were said. Were said many young people had become slaves to destructive habits.

Concerns over cult activities in primary schools

The National, October 2nd, 2013

 PRIMARY school students in East New Britain are engaged in cult activities, provincial guidance officer Philip Son says.
He said in Kokopo recently that while Grade Eight, 10 and 12 students were preparing for the annual national exams, “generation names or the cult movement” was active.
He said it involved senior students passing generation “nick names” to junior students so the names could live on. 
Son has sent out a warning to senior students in the province to stop engaging in such activities.
He said students caught would be banned from sitting their national examinations.
He urged head teachers, principals, deputy principals and staff of all schools to keep a close watch on their students in the next three weeks.
“I am asking all of you be alert and ensure that students are not left alone. This is to stop them from passing the generation names in the cult movement,” he said.


Sex offenders target minors

The National, October 2nd, 2013

 SEX crimes against minors have increased lately in the country’s second largest city, police say.
Lae police chief Iven Lakatani said they were trying to find out why but police were attending to at least one reported case daily of sexual assault of children.
“It is actually going up,” Lakatani said. 
“Children aged 15 and below are being sexually abused by adults.”
Lakatani could not provide the latest statistics on sex crimes against minors but warned parents in Lae to take extra caution in looking after the safety of their children.
“We’ve found that people who commit these crimes in most instances are known to the victims,” he said.
“Parents must be very vigilant. They must not trust the people who they live with.”
Lakatani is discussing the issue with sex offences squad detectives in Lae.
He said police had also recorded an increase in break-and-enter cases in the city lately.
“I urge home owners to always leave someone in the house all the time to keep watch when they are away,” Lakatani said.


Morehari: Sexual offences involving children a concern

The National, October 3rd, 2013

 POLICE in Milne Bay are concerned about the number of sexual offences mostly involving children that are being suppressed by family members.
Milne Bay is the second province this week to raise concern over sex offences against children. Police in Lae this week also raised their concern over the rise in the number of sex-related cases involving children.
Milne Bay police commander Chief Supt Joseph Morehari said many sexual offences were not reported to police.
He blamed this on the reluctance of family members to report them because they feared losing breadwinners.
“Cases of child abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence,  mainly against women and young children, have gone unreported to police in the province and I am concerned about the issue,” he said.
“Last week, I sent a group of police officers from Alotau to Rabaraba, on the north coast, and they returned with eight cases of incest.”
Morehari said every week there was at least one case of rape reported to police while others were suppressed.
 

5 year old Girl Pack-raped

EMTV, Saturday 26th October 2013

A 5 year old girl has miraculously survived a horrible ordeal in Port Moresby, after she was pack-raped by a group of men at Gerehu Stage 6.  The incident occurred on Wednesday when the girl was kidnapped from her auntie’s home at Stage 5 and taken to another residence a few hundred meters away.  It is alleged she was kidnapped by a PMV operator, allegedly from the Western Highlands.  She was taken to this redidence at Stage 6, which houses PMV drivers and crews, and where she is believed to have been pack raped by the tenants overnight. Miraculously, the young girl escaped her captors when they were asleep, crawling out of the locked gate.  The young firl’s uncle, who is a police officer, took her to the police station where they reported the incident and apprehended four men and a female.  Another male suspect is on the run.  The father said he was deeply hurt when he found out about what had happened to his daughter.  Early this year, the Government approved the death penalty as the maimum sentence for rape cases.  The relatives have demanded for that to be enforced onto the suspects in jail, once found guilty.  Meanwhile, the young firl is recovering from her serious injuries at the Port Moresby General Hospital.

Callan supports special needs student

The National, October 3rd, 2013

 AMONG the 161 students sitting for their Grade 10 national examinations this week is special needs student Noel Amtie.
Amtie, from Western Highlands, is deaf but will not let that stop his desire to sit for the exam with his classmates.
Callan Services for Persons with Disability in Kiunga has been supporting him. 
Among the external invigilators is his special teacher, Bernadine Tagen, from Callan Services, who ensured that Amite received the correct information using sign language. 
Tagen visited Amtie often at school to help him with the subject teachers. Most special need students attend St Gabriel’s Technical Secondary School for their secondary education and have achieved good results.
With the consistent support from Callan Services, Amtie started his schooling in Goroka before going to Mt Hagen.
He is sitting for his Grade 10 national examinations in Kiunga. 
Amtie’s parents and teachers have supported him in every way to aim for similar things in life as students without disabilities.
 

Effects of Resource Curse

From ASAO.net

There are various new theories of the state emerging from what is happening in PNG: for example, the extractive-based state, the state that is focused primarily protecting extractive industries such as logging and mining, so that all government sectors, including the police, armed forces, treasury, immigration, judiciary, fishing and forestry, etc., are focused on protecting extractive industries, from which only the overseas investors and national political elites benefit. Thus ordinary citizens do not benefit from the state. Parts of the government that do not protect the extractive industries (education, health, environment and other social services) receive minimum government funding, hence their very poor services. I think this is what is now happening in the Solomons. This is why so much government money is spent on supporting real or potential extractive industries, while the education and medical sectors are in great trouble. Income from these industries does not go to supporting social development but into the bank accounts of the overseas investors and national political elites. Somehow this movement has to be critiqued and checked by the voters who should elect candidates committed to getting the control of the government away from logging, mining and oil palm extraction private beneficiaries and restoring basic public services such as the hospitals, schools and human resource development (scholarships).

New church-state partnership forged

Post Courier 7 October, 2013

THE national Government has announced the details of a new PNG church-state partnership program.
The revamped program would be renamed as the “PNG Church-State Partnership Program”. 
It will include K50 million in annual project funding to be used by churches to improve their health and education service delivery in infrastructure and human capital.
Each partner church involved in delivering health and education services will receive a share of the annual project funding in line with their share of service delivery relative to other partner churches.
From 2014 onwards, each partner church will be provided with a funding ceiling based on their share of service delivery. Previously, requests for funding have been unco-ordinated and were made on ad-hoc bases. The new process will provide fair funding to the churches and allow them to better plan their activities.

Mr Abel, who announced this decision said:.“As a government we are committed to improving service delivery, and we are continuing to look for innovative ways to do that. The churches are our longstanding strategic partners who deserve our support.

New wages board to review national rate

The National, October 7th, 2013

THE newly-appointed minimum wages board will start conducting public hearings in Mendi, Southern Highlands, to review and set wage determination for the country.
The national wage rate set in 2008 was K2.29 per hour.
Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Mark Maipakai said last Friday the board would review and decide on the appropriateness of all allowances including heavy duty, rural hardship, housing, industry and risk.
The last wage determination was in 2008 and its decision handed down in January, 2009. 
The determination lapsed three years later.
Maipakai said the Government recognised the important role of the board and he hoped that all stakeholders, particularly industry leaders, employee and employer organisations, could attend the public hearings.

Uni will get K100m

The National, October 7th, 2013

 MINISTER for Higher Education, Science and Research David Arore has challenged Divine Word University to expand its Flexible Learning Centre to cater for the increasing number of school leavers. 
Arore spoke at the second mathematics and computer science mini-seminar at the Divine Word University’s Madang campus last Friday. 
He announced that the school was among six other national universities that would be receiving K100 million each year. 
“The government’s commitment in this funding emphasises on the tuition-free policy,” he said. 
“We’re not just talking but putting money where the mouth is.
“The Government has allocated K700 million for the seven national universities. 
“And for Divine Word University, our paramount objective is to expand in the course that caters for the demanding population. Arore commended the Catholic Church-run university’s mathematics and computer science departments for their part in promoting online education and examination. 
“This illustrates the positive changing trend in the higher education sector,” he said. 
“As the minister responsible, I would like PNG universities to grow to be competitive at international level.’’

Mum sees children for first time after surgery

The National, October 8th, 2013

 MOTHER of three Adua Makasi is seeing her children for the first time – after undergoing an eye surgery.
And she will be forever thankful to the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) outreach health programme, which recently conducted eye surgeries at Daru Hospital in Western.
Makasi, 27, suffered from congenital cataracts, a clouding of the lens that is present at birth. It caused her eyesight to deteriorate , making her blind 10 years ago at the age of 17.   
Since they got married, husband Wiesa did the family gardening, made sago, provided for the family and took care of the children.
Makusa remained most of the time at home because she needed help to move around.  When they heard about the free eye checks provided by the YWAM medical ship at Daru, they paddled in a canoe for two weeks from their village in South Fly to reach Daru with their children aged five, three and one.

When the YWAM team first met Makasi, she could not see a hand waving a metre in front of her, let alone read an eye chart. 
Optometrist Julie Jones, a volunteer from New Zealand, recalls meeting the woman.
“When Makasi walked in the room she had to be led in by her husband. Her eyes were downcast and her face was expressionless,” she said. 
“When we asked her to sit down, she had to put her hand out to feel where the chair was.”
After undergoing testing, the ophthalmic team concluded that Makasi was a surgical candidate. The two 30-minute procedures to remove cataracts from both eyes produced immediate results.
And Makasi saw her three children for the first time.
“When Makasi came in the day after her surgery for post-op, she was a completely different person,” Jones said.
“She didn’t need anyone to guide her around the room. She was independent and could read almost to the bottom of the eye chart.”
Makasi was one of 65 patients who received eye surgery at the Daru Hospital in the past two weeks.


Centre: Bilum industry important for women

The National, October 8th, 2013

SMALL Business Development Corporation acting managing director Henry Marasembi says the bilum industry is viable and an important project for women
He said this while farewelling a technical team from the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva.
The team was in the country for research purposes with the National Consultative Working Group and state departments and private agencies.
“The bilum industry has a very high viability and that women, as better entrepreneurs, will now be involved with this very important project that will be rolled out,” Marasembi  said. ITC’s  aim in PNG was to harness the untapped potential of bilum to increase the economic situation of bilum producers. The acting deputy executive director for ITC, Ashish Shah, in a letter to Maru, said he was pleased to work with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry to ensure that the bilum trade in PNG developed rapidly and contributed to the economic empowerment of women involved with the bilum design, production and marketing.
 
 

Refugees to decide future

The National, October 8th, 2013

SEVEN West Papua asylum seekers will have to decide whether to return to Indonesia or live in Papua New Guinea as refugees.
They were brought to Port Moresby by the Australian immigration from Horn Island, in Australia, on Sept 26.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Jacob Mandayam said that they had no intention of coming to PNG and were unhappy with the manner in which they were being treated by the Australians.
“It took us about two weeks by land and sea to go to Australia and to be brought to PNG is unacceptable,” he said.
“Right now we have no plans on what we are going to do because we were dumped here without any further advice from the Australian immigration about where to go or what sort of action to take,” Mandayam said.
The seven are from Meroka, in West Papua, and had made their way to the PNG-Indonesia border where they met two fishermen from Kalu village, in West Sepik, who helped them with their boats to travel to Australia. Included in the group was  a woman and a 10-year-old.
The asylum seekers are now staying in a hotel in Port Mort Moresby.


PNG schools short of 10,000 teachers

Post Courier 9th October.

Most teachers are leaving their jobs while others are resigning and retiring every year, leaving 10,000 vacancies for teachers in the Education Department.
Brian Gaius Monie, from the Department of Education revealed this at a workshop on the development of national youth employment framework in Port Moresby yesterday. 
Mr Monie said the teachers are leaving for better jobs with better salary packages.
 Mr Monie said from the record, there are about two million school-aged children from four to 14 years old in the country. 
From these, 1,500,000 are currently enrolled at various schools from elementary to secondary schools. 
The remaining are still in the villages or doing nothing in towns and cities. 
The number of unemployed youths is rising every year, Mr Monie said. 
But the Department of Education is working with the Office of Higher Education to address this issue through technical education and vocational training. Mr Monie said the department has already certified 4,860 certificates and diplomas to technical education and vocational students who completed their trainings to find jobs. Mr Bopi said many training institutions are training people where there are no jobs in the labour market.

Survey: Large number of youths unemployed

Post Courier, 10 October, 2013

A youth unemployment survey conducted in six urban areas has discovered that there is a large number of unemployed youth in cities and towns.
The National Youth Commission survey, conducted in conjunction with the University of PNG and the University of Western Sydney, Australia, stated that many PNG youth migrate into urban centres in search for employment or studies. 
Out of a total of 318 respondents, 44 per cent arrived in towns and cities in search for a job while 33 per cent migrated for study. More than half of the respondents were primary and secondary school drop outs and just over 10 per cent had tertiary qualifications. Interestingly, only 32 per cent of the youth in the survey were employed while 68 had no formal jobs.
The vast majority, aged between 18 and 30, agreed that most social issues come as a result of unemployment. Most of the youth in the survey want the government to put more emphasis on education, employment, training and social services.

CEO: Blackouts costing hospital thousands of kina

The National, October 10th, 2013

 CONSTANT power disruptions in Vanimo town, West Sepik, have forced the hospital there to use its standby generator, costing more than K11,000 a week.
Hospital chief executive Elias Kapavore said since last week  blackouts in the town had caused financial problems for the hospital.
“A drum of fuel in Vanimo costs more than K1,000 and our standby generator is supposed to be operating for four to five hours, not eight hours,” Kapavore  said
“Two thousand kina each day starting from last week is a problem.
“We would like PNG Power to look into this problem and fix it immediately.” Kapavore said it was not in the hospital’s budget to spend that much on fuel and he was unhappy with the service provided by PNG Power.
Constant outages from 6am to 7pm meant technical problems as well.


Mental health a growing concern

Post Courier 11 October

MENTAL health in PNG is a growing concern and can be a cause for minor stress or a major depression. 
Mental Health Advisor with the National Health Department Dr Umadevi Ambihaipahar said as the population increased, older people, 60 years of age or above, faced special health challenges, including under-identified mental health problems.
Older people are often reluctant to seek help. 
Their problems are associated with a multitude of social, demographic, psychological and biological factors that contribute to mental health.
Dr Umadevi said factors like poverty, social isolation, loss of independence, loneliness, disability and mistreatment could all affect mental health and general health. 
Dementia, involving memory loss, and depression often affect many older people. 
Meanwhile, mental health problems can be helped. 
Dr Umadevi said the PNG wantok system, social support and family interactions that boosted the dignity of older people and were likely to have a proactive role in the mental health outcomes of the population.
“Primary health, community care and social service sectors need to be sensitised to better deal with elder abuse,” Dr Umadevi said.


HIV trend shifts

Post Courier 14 October

PAPUA New Guinea’s HIV infection rate has moved from a generalised epidemic to cluster groups, says the chairman of the National AIDS Council Dr Banare Bun.
Speaking recently in Lae, Morobe Province, Dr Bun said the high risk populations included female sex workers, men having sex with men and transgender. 
“This cluster groups are hidden in our society because of stigma and discrimination,” he said and indicated that the council would allocate resources over a five-year period in a bid to contain the spread of HIV in the high risk population. 
“We have a middle group which is the key affected population. These men, from the middle group, get the HIV from the most at risk populations and spread it to their faithful wives,” Dr Bun said.
The “middle group” are mobile men with money, mobile phones and multiple sexual partners. 
These included public servants, businessmen, policemen, soldiers, warders, seafarers, mine workers, politicians, parliamentarians, landowners, truckies (highway drivers), PMV drivers and university students.
“Our interventions are now targeted on the most at risk populations and the middle men,” he added. Dr Bun said the general population in the country must be protected from HIV infection.
“We have a .08 per cent prevalence rate and 98.2 per cent of population is not infected with HIV but are affected one way or another,” he said.
PNG as of last year reported a total of 37,000 HIV cases with 95 per cent getting infected through unprotected sex.

Kua blasts EU envoys

Post Courier 15 October

The Government has slammed the EU, United Kingdom and France for being critical of its push to implement the death penalty. 
The Attorney General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua issued a statement yesterday condemning diplomats from the EU, the UK and France after they criticised the government in a joint opinion piece published in the daily newspapers last week.
Ambassadors Martin Dihm and Pascal Maubert of the EU and France and the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner Jackie Barson stated that re-introducing the death penalty as a measure to curb crime in PNG was a “disturbing” development and one discussed at length in their own countries. 
In response to the article, Mr Kua called on the foreign diplomats “not to implicitly threaten and intimidate this country in the way it should be designing its social development agenda. The message that we seem to be getting from the comments made suggest that Papua New Guinea and its leadership and the government should break their own laws.”
 He pointed back to European history to defend the PNG Government’s stance on the death penalty. 
“Tell me quite frankly and honestly whether they never had such an exercise by generations of government past in their own country,” he said.

Students with HIV on rise

The National, October 15th, 2013

THE Western Highlands provincial committee on HIV/AIDS is concerned about the growing number of students infected with the disease.
The provincial AIDS council issued a strong warning to students to be mindful of their movement and refrain from going to parties and social activities after completing their national examinations.
Apollos Yimbak, the technical officer with the provincial AIDS committee, said many Grade 10 students in the province, who completed their national examination last Friday, organised parties and ended up getting drunk.
He said such social activities contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people in the province and resulted in unwanted pregnancies.
“Your parents and guardians invested more money and resources in you students to become somebody useful and look after them when they grow old,” he said.

“The best option is to refrain from having sex at an early stage, but wait until they complete their education, find a job and get married.”
He urged Grade 10 students to stay at home with their parents and help them.
“When you go around with your peer group, they will force you into all sorts of things and eventually will spoil your life, which you will regret later,” he said.

Disabled girl wins awards

The National, October 18th, 2013

 Isabella Kila, 18, a student at St Charles Lwanga, in Port Moresby, who was born with a disability, won two awards at the school’s graduation ceremony.
Kila was part of the 187 students who passed out from  Port Moresby’s  only high school yesterday.
Kila, from Rigo, Central, was one  student in her class who never missed a day of school this year. 
She  received a role model award for her class. 
Kila expressed great satisfaction attending the school, saying she had enjoyed the company of staff and students in her two years there.
“Coming to this school was not a mistake. I thought it would be difficult but you all helped me and the love and care is the greatest blessing in my life,” she said when thanking the school on behalf of the Grade 10 class. 
“The teachers are the best, they spend time with you and laugh and wipe your tears,” Kila said.


Health gets Mobile Phone Boost

Post-Courier, 16 October, 2013

Mobile phones have brought about many positive changes in remote areas in this country. The remarks were made during the presentation of a second phase report on a toll free line called the maternal hotline in Port Moresby. The maternal hotline used by Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority is having positive results - saving lives of mothers and babies. The AusAID funded pilot project launched last October aims to reduce PNG’s high maternal death rate. The maternal hotline described in the report as mhealth (mobile health) connects existing health resources by making human contact more efficient. Health officers using the project described it as an effective communicative tool in especially remote areas when coverage is possible. Mr Dakulala praised MBP for taking lead in maternal reduction and moreover for having to sustain the project.

Nandex urges dads to be responsible

The National, October 23rd, 2013

 FORMER world kickboxing champion and father of three, Stanley Nandex, has called on dads to take responsibilities at home seriously by taking equal part in child welfare and raising them. 
He said women were largely left to mind the house and children but that had to stop because the world was changing quickly and men had to assume full responsibility as well.
Nandex spoke yesterday at a conference to encourage greater participation of men in maternal and child health. 
“The norms and cultural beliefs that were taught to us served different purposes that were to occur at different times,” he said.
“A father’s involvement in the family is significant as it provides a sense of security for the children and the mother,” he said.
“We are always reacting to law and order issues but we don’t see that our own children are the main actors.
“We tend to blame it on service providers, yet the child’s wellbeing and upbringing starts at home, and it’s with us parents.  “As a sportsman and a champion, I enjoy playing my part as a father, I help bathe my children and I cook for them too,” Nandex said.
“In the eyes of the public we maintain our status but back at home, we must bring ourselves down and get dirty. 
“A father and mother should maintain respect for each other and play their role as parents equally because we were put on earth as equal partners.”

An archive of Social Concerns Notes may be found at  http://tokstret.com

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