| Graun Blong Mi (My Land)
An open letter to prime minister James Marape on behalf of the cancer patients in Papua New Guinea from your citizen Sylvester Gawi
Dear Prime Minister James Marape….
I am writing this letter with tears streaming down my face.
A pain I've felt for so long after losing people so close to me to this deadly disease - Cancer.
After many years of writing about the plight of cancer patients, little or nothing has been done to build cancer treatment facilities in Papua New Guinea.
Cancer has killed our mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers and even our close friends and colleagues. It continues to add more people to its statistics every day.
The cost of getting treatment overseas has sky rocketed. An ordinary citizen cannot afford to raise up to even 10% of treatment costs overseas.
Thousands of kina have been spent on morphine drugs alone for pain relieve.
Successive governments have promised us better testing and treatment facilities for cancer, yet we are waiting while our elite population are dying.
These are our mothers, people who are working very hard to sustain families and build this nation. How many more years are we going to wait for a treatment facility to be built?
I've lost my big papa, my neighbour, several close friends who shared their stories with me and many other loved ones.
Just this month, I heard another sad story of my life.
My aunt, a very hardworking market mama is suffering from cervical cancer. She was sick for some months, but the local health clinics are not equipped to treat and diagnose cancer.
ANGAU Hospital in Madang is an ill-equipped facility. So much for being a general hospital. The same is the situation with all government health facilities nationwide.
For someone who earns between K100 and K200 a week, how do you expect her to seek better treatment when she's got several mouths to feed and school fees to pay?
Cancer is killing her. How do you expect her to raise K30,000 for treatment overseas?
Who is gonna pay for morphine drugs to ease her pain while waiting for treatment? The longer she waits, the immune system collapses with time.
She looked after me when my mom died 10 years ago. I am so worried to lose her. She is someone I hold dearly at heart.
I can cry my lungs out but nothing is there to help her recover. I don't want her to be another statistic. Her family needs her, she needs to be happy. She's too young to leave.
It's high time your government built cancer treatment facilities. Pass the Radiation Bill to ensure ANGAU Hospital can use radiotherapy for treatment.
Invest in cancer facilities and specialists across the country. Women are dying, men are dying and children are left with uncertainty.
To the Health Minister, don't be like your predecessors. All sweet talk and they are gone with the wind.
The Department of Health should push for cancer treatment facilities, not Covid-19 isolation centres.
Build facilities and put specialists around the health needs of your people.
We pay taxes and we deserve better.
Thank you and I look forward to hear from you soon.