| My Land, My Country
LAE - In 2020, we went to each of the 10 health centres in Lae City with forms on which the officers-in-charge stated what medicines were in short supply and for how long the problem had existed.
Each form was signed by the manager.
A few months later, we travelled into the Highlands and did the same with at least 10 other clinics and hospitals in Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Western Highlands and Enga.
It was the only way we could get credible data on the problem of medicine shortages with the consent of frontline health workers.
Not many wanted to be interviewed. Those who did were later, very quietly, issued warning letters and told to shut the hell up or ship out.
In Kundiawa and Goroka, the acting CEOs said divisional heads and their pharmacy teams should meet with us.
Our reporting revealed a health system that was struggling. In Kundiawa the situation was so bad that in some cases the pharmacy was issuing expired drugs to patients.
Shocked? Don’t be. We know it’s happening in other hospitals. We also know people are too afraid to speak out.
What’s the point in raising this story? The problems continue because people within the system remain silent.
Unions who represent the workers are also mute on matters of public importance.
Apart from Dr Sam Yokopua and Dr Glen Mola, very few senior medicos have spoken out. I also note that Dr Gerega Nou is writing more on Facebook about the issues he faces.
But we need more testimony.
Unions are only visible when there is a complaint to government over awards and pay.
The problem is they get zero support from the public because they remain silent over things that affect the wider community.
It’s the same in the education sector.
At Tusbab Secondary School in Madang, an average class has over 50 students. The community calls out to the media to ‘expose the situation’.
Problem is nobody with firsthand knowledge is brave enough to speak out and fight for change. Not many are willing to travel the whole way and see that change happens.
People remain silent in public, complain in private and stay in the same quagmire of legacy problems, working until they can’t take it anymore.
Covid-19 has laid bare all the weaknesses in the health system. The things that we could have fixed and didn’t.
Those who are corrupt and morally bankrupt bled the system like fat ugly leeches.
They continue to hide like cockroaches in the dark and feed off a very sick system.
When is it going to stop?
Only when those in the system speak out, have their words amplified by the media and shame those in charge into acting for the good of the people.
One flaw we have as a people is that we expect someone else to do the work for us. We wait for people to speak and act for us.
We need to grow up and grow out of this unfortunate habit.
We cannot wait until all our children’s resources are plundered and squandered and it is too late.
We have to speak out. Now!