I am a 35 year old PROUD Papua New Guinean mother and wife,
as well as a professionally skilled woman who was recently diagnosed with
cervical cancer. I would like to comment on an article “Simulator to treat cancer out of order” dated Friday December 4 2015 in The Post Courier.
After undergoing a biopsy at Port Moresby General Hospital,
I was told that I had stage 3B cervical cancer and that it was inoperable. I
was then referred to Angau’s Cancer Unit in Lae for radiotherapy only to be
told by the doctor two weeks ago that he would not be able to treat me
effectively due to the simulator being out of order and that my best option was
to go overseas for treatment.
The doctor is passionate about helping those with cancer
however he is limited in performing effective treatment plans on his patients
at Angau’s Cancer Unit because he has been waiting on funding from the
Department of Health for months now.
Who then should be
held accountable for this negligence? We hear every day about how cervical
cancer takes lives of hundreds of women each year so what then is the
Government doing about it? Before the Department of Health hides behind it’s so
called protocols and procedures, maybe someone high up should make their way
down to Angau’s Cancer Unit to see for themselves how their lack of action is
decreasing the life span of cancer patients.
It is so easy to turn and look the
other way when it is not your family member that is affected by a life
threatening illness that can be effectively treated with the right equipment,
medication and care. Those of you in The Health Department that are placed in
positions that give you the power need to make a difference in the lives of
ordinary Papua New Guineans. Many have to travel miles and miles to seek
medical treatment or are sent from their home provinces to major hospitals for
months and months just so that a mother, wife or sister does not succumb to the
many gynaecological diseases that women in PNG face. The challenge is there;
you either take it or let someone else take on the challenge.
I pay my taxes like every good citizen is supposed to, taxes
that are too high, and with the high standard of living it becomes quite
difficult to put aside large savings for rainy days. It bothers me to think
that year in year out the government collects millions, in tax payer’s money
and yet take a look at the public amenities that we are entitled to. Why do we
even bother to pay our taxes? Unfortunately it is the law and we must abide by
the law, as it is what governs our country. Of course we hear about new
hospital wings or new classrooms being built or million kina road projects, the
issue is not about new ward wings, school buildings or new road projects; it is
about the upkeep, the maintenance of these public amenities that should be
brought into light.
The simulator has not
been working properly for four years and has been waiting for parts, ‘why?’ is
the question we must ask. Does the public Health Department have maintenance
plans in place? Or wait until it stops functioning and then start trying to
source parts and a technician to come have these critical lifesaving machines
fixed?? It is the same for every public road, school building or hospital wing
that have been built; it is the routine maintenance that is important more so
than the celebration of opening up new public places.
I call on
the Minister of Health to look into this; Sir what if it was your wife,
daughter, sister or mother, what would you do? I guess it is easier for you
because you would have the funds readily available to send your loved ones
overseas. What about the rest of us?? Every day Papua New Guinean women;
someone’s mother, wife, sister, grandmother… What do we do?
I am currently in a daunting position. I cannot have an operation
to remove the cancer that continues to grow inside me unless I receive
radiotherapy to reduce its size. The longer I go without the correct medical
treatment the more the cancer will continue to grow and spread throughout my
body. I have received countless blood transfusions in a short period of time, I
am praying and hoping that the simulator will be fixed so that I just like many
other people waiting, praying and hoping can receive the vital treatment we so
desperately require. If it isn’t the cervical cancer that kills me first it
will most likely be my internal organs shutting down as my haemoglobin levels
continue to drop, and the lack of oxygen being carried throughout my body will
be insufficient due to the very low red blood cell count.