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!