Papua New Guinea

Our silence is killing our nation

In 2020, we went to each of the 10 health centers in Lae City with forms on which the officers in charge would state what medicines were in short supply and what 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 province.

It was the only way, we could get credible data on the problem of medicine  shortages with consent of frontline workers in the health system.  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 called all divisional heads and their  pharmacy teams  to meet with us. They revealed a health system that was literally struggling. In Kundiawa,  the situation was so bad, that the pharmacy was issuing in some instances, expired drugs to patients. 

Shocked?  Don’t be.   We all know it is happening in other hospitals. We also know, people are too afraid to speak out.

What’s the point in bringing this story out?  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 have spoken out. I also note that Dr. Gerega Nou is writing more on Facebook about the issues he faces.  But we need more.

Unions are only visible when there is a complaint to government over awards and pay.  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.

In Tusbab Secondary school Madang,  an average class have over 50 students. The community calls out to the media to “expose the situation.”  Problem is nobody 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 will gladly remain silent,  complain in private and go back to the same quagmire of legacy problems and work until they can’t take it anymore. 

The COVID-19 situation has laid bare all the weaknesses in the health system. The things that we could have fixed but didn’t.  The 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,  their words are amplified by the media and those in charge are shamed into acting for the good of the people.

One flaw we have 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!

6 comments on “Our silence is killing our nation

  1. Abel Rudolf

    Silence is an habit. A very poisonous habit striking everyone. It is a prison.


  2. kenbale2019

    We need to take action. If we dont we will be overcome and overrun.


  3. Young people in Papua New Guinea are very respectful of their elders. They do not want to criticise or complain publicly even when they are suffering abuse or injustice. They wait for their problems to be resolved for them and for leadership to be exercised by older people. I am trying to promote a digital magazine for young people. The first issue is entirely made up by me. It is meant to show what can be done with a magazine for youth. You can see the first issue here I will publish one more issue in June. I am hoping and praying that there will be a lot of material in it from young people who want to take ownership of the magazine. If there is no support there will be no more issues.


  4. Hannah Hera Hasing

    Evidence based reporting ensures that issues faced within our Health system are identified and voiced out on behalf of the community/people/workers who do not have the voice to do so. As citizens we need to raise our concern to the government. As per your article it is clearly evident that our health system needs a massive turn around, management and reporting from all levels (Local, Provincial and National). Thank you for your article.


  5. Pingback: Our silence is killing our nation – Duresi's Odyssey

  6. Pingback: As a PNGean woman, a pharmacist and a mum, am I speaking up for the things that matter in my country? – Duresi's Odyssey

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