Friday, September 23, 2011

Medical care in PNG..... or lack of it.

Long time no blog..... well i'm back... I arrived back in PNG on Friday, I headed down to the local market to pick up some fruit. There is a small ‘convenience’ store where you can buy a few basic things like flour, soap and a few miscellaneous household items. Not often anything you need, but none the less it is a shop. At the cash register there is a cardboard box. It has a hole in the top and on the side it has written "donations to pay for medical clinic electricity bill" I’ve never been to the public clinic as we have a private clinic within the company we work for. So I went over and spoke with the staff to find out what the story was. The Gusap health centre is the local hospital. It provides medical care for around 20,000 locals in the area. They see up to 1200 outpatients a month, 700 inpatients, as well as delivering around 60 babies month. They are currently without power and have been since February as they owe $34,000 Kina to the power company. The clinic is so basic. They don't even have sheets on the beds that they do have. It is heartbreaking that their medical care is so sub standard, and now they have to do it all with no power. A new sexually transmitted infections clinic was built out the back of the hospital in 2009, whilst building it they used the hospital power and contributed significantly to the power bill. The building was funded by Ausaid so I have contacted them in hope of getting some financial assistance to get the power back on. I had a tour of the hospital and took a few photos. I have to share... Having just delivered a baby in a fantastic hospital in Melbourne, the horrific conditions of the delivery suite really stuck a chord with me. This is the delivery bed. It used to be in a bigger room, but the room has no windows for light, so now they have moved the bed into a small room used for post-natal care.
A makeshift curtain separates a mother who may need to be on the bed from a mother who may have just delivered.
In PNG, their health system is a little different. They have Doctors and they have nurses but then they have something in between. From what i could gather they go to university for 4 years and then do a two year clinical placement and that allows them to administer some medications, and perform small procedures like suturing. This clinic has no doctor on site, just this in between qualification, although they do liase with the drs from our clinic and their sister clinic a few hundred kms up the road. So as long as things go to plan, all is good. If things don't go to plan it is a 2 and a half hour trip by ambulance to the nearest hospital.
Below are medical supplies. Note the instruments sitting in the kidney dish full of water?!
And this, much to my shock, is a purpose made cholera bed. The diarrhea is so violent that apparently catching it under the bed in a bucket is the best way to deal with it.... Thank goodness that outbreak is over and thankgoodness i live in a country where i can walk into a doctors surgery and get immunised against it.
It's hard to see from the pics. But there is a fine layer of dust over everything. The place is stinking hot, it doesn't smell so good. There are plenty of rooms for things like x-ray, dentistry, pathology, but at the moment they are just signs on the door. The rooms behind the doors are empty. The state of the medical care in this country is horrific. It is heartbreaking to see how these people have to live. We are so fortunate to have access to the medical system that we do in Australia. So my latest mission is to try and get the power back on and maybe some sheets for the beds in the hospital.


  1. Hey Jane - no time no blog indeed, slacker ;) Anyone would think you were busy off having a baby or something...
    This is just heartbreaking, I think even more so because I've been there, met the locals and also seen the medical treatment which you guys (and we got!)access to and it wouldn't be too hard to have something available for 'everyone else'? Let me know what we can do - donate sheets, money to buy sheets there? Money to get power back on?? Contacting Ausaid? Let me know!

  2. I agree this is heartbreaking. Thankyou for opening our eyes about how lucky we really are.
    Hope you are settling back in alright xox