Medicine shortages affect hospitals, senior staff ordered not to talk through circular

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Patient affected by medicine shortage in Madang

EMTV’s Madang Correspondent, Martha Louis, reported yesterday that the CEO of Madang Hospital and the Director, Medical Services have been, reportedly, issued directives through a circular barring them from talking about the medicine shortage at Modilon Hospital.

This is not the first time senior health staff have been threatened and intimidated through orders “from above.”

Earlier last year, the health Minister also issued directives barring staff and senior management from Angau hospital from speaking out about the state of the cancer unit and the medicine shortage.

It is good that we still have doctors like Dr. Sam Yockopua, who are unafraid to speak out when there is a shortage of medicines and consumables. We all need to do the same.

While we understand that there are protocols that need to be followed, the ultimate aim of government is to serve the people of this country.

The suppression of important ‘voices of conscience’ like health workers and teachers when the problems are so obvious is detrimental to both the people and democracy.

I know of both older and younger public servants who are hardworking. They serve with an unrivalled passion in their fields. I know of health workers in Lae who serve with dignity despite the difficulties they face every day.

They don’t get paid as much as they should. Yet, they know they cannot shut down the clinic just because there is a shortage of medicine.  Their senior representatives should not be suppressed.

How can we fix a problem if we hide it? How can a doctor treat a patient if the patient doesn’t say what’s wrong?

Martha Louis reported yesterday that the hardest hit by the lack of medicines and the suppression of our voices are the patients.

“Papi Kalupi travels from his village at Ono in the Usino-Bundi District  to get treatment in Madang. But he says he says, because of the cost of travelling, he only comes to the hospital when he is very ill.

“Another longtime resident in Madang, Malai Kami, says he is now resorting to using herbal medicine to treat himself and his family. He says hospitals are not functioning as they did in the past.”

The people are the most accurate gauge of our social services. They won’t give you the bullsh*t we see in colorful statements with fancy letterheads.

We have to ask why our people are being forced to buy the most basic medicines – anti-malarial and antibiotics – at pharmacies?

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How the #PNG education reforms destroyed several generations of children in Sandaun

This blog post is not a researched academic piece nor is it an adequate reflection of the state of education in other parts of Papua New Guinea.  It is based on my personal experiences in Sandaun Province after having spent half a year as an elementary school  teacher and having participated in research that took me throughout the districts. It is also based on numerous interviews conducted with teachers and parents in those remote districts. 

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Grade 6 class in Aitape, 2002

By 2001, it was clear the education system was showing symptoms of   serious problems. In Sandaun province where I lived for four years, close contact with the education professionals gave me an understanding of what the struggles were.

 

Through aid supported programs, teachers attended workshops in numbers and elementary school system was rolled out in the province. Each community had to have an elementary school so that students didn’t have to go far to attend school.  They became ‘feeders’   to the primary schools.

New positions called the ‘Elementary School Coordinators’ were created both in the government system and the church run systems.   The coordinator’s job was to manage the schools and to ensure that it had teachers.

When schools were opened, coordinators found that teachers were in short supply.

To counter that shortage, coordinators were told by advisors (foreign or local?) to find “the person with the highest education level in the communities” and have that person trained as an elementary school teacher.

In the election year of 2002, I assisted with a research project sponsored by the National Research Institute. The team leader was Ignatius Wunum, a veteran educationist in Sandaun. (I make mention of him so this information can be verified by a second source.)

We travelled to Telefomin, Nuku, Aitape-Lumi and Vanimo-Green. Following directives from the education headquarters, the elementary coordinators sourced teachers from the local community.

Many coordinators in rural districts realised that they couldn’t find grade 12, leavers in the communities to be trained as elementary school teachers. So they chose the next best option – a grade 10 leaver or grade 8 or lower.

These teachers were ill-equipped from their prior education experience to be able to provide a decent education foundation for five and six-year-olds.

In many areas, the bridging from vernacular or Tok Pisin to English was very badly done due to the poor quality of the teachers. By the third year of schooling, students still could not read or write in English.

I do not know the details of how elementary teacher training is done. But I do know that it takes shorter that the normal teacher training done in colleges and the University of Goroka.

This training was aid funded and it was mass produced elementary school teachers in a parallel teacher training system.

In short this system destroyed the education foundation of several generations of children over 20 years. Many of these students are now in universities unable to articulate themselves in written and verbal English.

In primary school, the Outcome Based Education system, introduced in the mid-1990s presented an additional problem.

Again, I state here that I have little understanding of how this works. I have tried to get a clearer idea of how it works from the experts. But I still fall short.

What I do know is that, evidence shows that by grade 10, many students are still unable to read. It may be caused by a combination of issues. But I do know that this system has not worked for us.

As a journalist, getting the answers from the Education Department and getting them to admit that the system they use has failed  is like hitting a brick wall. Nobody talks to you.

Teachers on the other will speak only off record as they vent about the difficulties they face with kids moving up the grades.

It now comes as no surprise that we are unable to meet the requirements for the law and medicine in universities. I am also concerned about the state of the journalism programs in DWU and UPNG with the quality of students who, in my opinion are not of the caliber required for this profession. It is not their fault if they came through that failed elementary school system that didn’t teach them to read and write well.

I am writing this to create debate because this is a crisis we need to resolve over the next 20 years.

New NHC Regional Manager tells it like it is: ‘Our records are in a mess’

NHCCCSo today, I went into the National Housing Corporation office in Lae with the recently appointed Regional Manager, David Augwi.
 
David was reinstated after a two year episode during which he was sidelined by the previous NHC management.
 
When he resumed office, he found another officer using the manager’s office. When he asked for the officer to vacate the office, the deadlock and the office desk was removed.
 
“I worked on a couch and a small coffee table that was left in the manager’s office. Until I found some money to buy by own office table.”
 
In the 2016-2017 period, a contractor was brought in to do renovations. It was later discovered he didn’t have a legal contract for the 400 thousand kina job.
As part of the renovations, the contractor removed the windows and the tiles but didn’t complete the job. He also removed the toilet and didn’t have it replaced.
 
After he didn’t get paid for the job, he locked the office. NHC staff later forcefully removed the door. Without any operational funds to fix the door, the office was left open for at least a year.
 
During the renovation period, the filing room that contained all the property documents was opened. One officer said today, many of the files were lost.
 
“This used to be the men’s toilet,”Augwi says as he stands in the middle of what is now the filing room. “It was removed don’t now we don’t have a toilet.
 
You can’t really understand the problem of fake titles and illegal evictions until you see the filing room.
 
There is no real filing system in the room where all the records of properties in Lae are kept. These important documents are exposed to elements and have been for many years. Some are still kept in ancient cigarette cartons on top of filing cabinets.
 
The lack of care itself has opened the organization to widespread corruption and abuse where corrupt officials duplicate titles or create new ones at their convenience.
 
Andrew Augwi, has a tough job on his hands, in recent weeks, he has advised various tenants on how to get back properties from which they were evicted.
 
He is also battling internal administrative problems, illegal eviction complaints and the lack of resources.
 
Like many other NHC offices around the country, the second biggest NHC office doesn’t have a registered post office box, running water or vehicles to operate.
 
Water PNG also slapped the NHC office with a K10,000 fine for an illegal water connection done by the contractor. A fine they have not yet paid.

Fake documents used in another eviction attempt involving the #NHC

pic1A Lae family has reported a case of alleged fraud to the police after their dead father’s name was used in court documents as part of a move to have them evicted from the their property.

Saking Waga was one of the first settlers at Nawae Block in Lae. He obtained a block of state land in the 1970s where he built the family home. Mr. Waga died in 2011 and left the block and the house to his children.

But last week, his son in Law, Daniel Marika, was confronted by a group of men who told his that the land portion had been sold and that they were there to take measurements of the land allotment.

The family were later surprised to find that the name of their deceased father was on a statutory declaration form with a forged signature.

“They falsified documents. Then tried to have us evicted,” says Daniel Marika.

Upon further investigation, they found that the youngest brother of the family, Alois Saking Waga had received a payment of K42,000. It is understood, he may have also signed a statutory declaration form bearing the name of their dead father.

The buyer is a local businessman who paid the money to Alois in the presence of community leaders at Nawae Block.

According to family members, Alois who was photographed receiving the money can’t, read or write. He has since gone into hiding.

The family believes that while he many have understood the transaction, they don’t believe he understood the documents he was signing – including the a hastily written, four paragraph sale agreement and the disputed statutory declaration for bearing the name of their deceased father.

The family are now in  court over the matter. But instead of being complainants in the court case, they are   defendants with the buyer as the complainant backed by supporting documents from the National Housing Corporation.

Senior members of the community have some forward to support the family. The Law and Order chairman at Nawaeb block, James Kinjin, was called in to resolve the matter.

He noticed the irregularities and ordered the men who were measuring the block to stop.

“They were about to be forcefully removed from the block. They were measuring the block while the family was still living there.

“Saking Waga died in 2011. You’re telling me that a dead man authorized the sale of his own block?”

The person who signed the sale agreement as a witness is Michael Nakut,   a community leader, who came to the scene as the family was being interviewed.

He admitted that Alois who allegedly received money for the sale can’t read or write but maintains this was not an eviction case.

“Their father is dead. The young man has taken his place. He is illiterate. He signed. This is not an eviction.”

The National Housing Corporation, according to documents,   also claims ownership over the land. Contained in an material presented in court by the complainant and buyer, is this tenancy agreement dated 01st of December, 2017. The agreement is stamped by the National Housing Corporation.

The recently appointed NHC regional Manager, David Augwi, has been made aware of the case. He has since asked for a brief from the NHC lawyer who prepared the sale and tenancy agreements.

 

 

 

Wanted crim who impersonated police busted after they found he couldn’t march

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Story by Gabriel Lahoc, NBC Morobe

A wanted criminal and escapee, who was on the run for nine years, could be the most daring police impersonator in the country, after spending the last three months as a police officer in Finschhafen district, Morobe province.

It is normal to hear of criminals dressed up in uniforms and impersonating police officers especially when commiting a crime, however Adam Peter from Inge Village in Maprik, East Sepik Province, managed to verbally convinced the Police Station Commander at Gagidu station that he was a transferred officer from Batas, West Sepik province.

Morobe Provincial Police Commander, Augustine Wampe, confirmed that the suspect was arrested just over a week ago and is currently awaiting court appearance facing multiple charges.

Adam Peter, the suspected police impersonator introduced himself as Officer Brian Mulo and since October, 2017, he was involved in police operations around Gagidu station in Finschhafen.

According to Chief Superintendent Wampe, the suspect lied to the station commander that there were lots of infightings in West Sepik which led to him transferring and that he had no uniform and driver’s licsense.

The suspect managed to get uniforms from his new police officer friends and even was allowed to drive the police vehicles, issued a police firearm, got involved in police operations and eventually made his first arrest recently.

Chief Superintendent Wampe, says Mulo raised the suspicion of police officers when he could not write in his incidence report as the arresting officer in police shorthand style and performed poorly during his first marching drill with them.

His short stint as an officer was interrupted unexpectedly by a couple of visiting off-duty officers from East New Britain who accompanied a dead colleague’s casket to Finschaffen for burial when they spotted the impersonator.

They confirmed that he was convicted in 2009 for an arm robbery case in Kokopo but escaped while serving his three year jail term and has since been on the run.

Chief Superintendent Wampe says the normal police transfer procedures normally includes signed and stamped transfer documents from an officers’ last commanding officer, will contain personal details like rank and file number and also includes telephone conversations between superiors to cross check.

However all of these were not followed and the unnamed Gagidu Police Station Commander, will be suspended indefinitely and will be penalised accordingly after the police hierarchy investigates this matter.

How to fight the eviction ‘specialists’ at the National Housing Corp

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Evicted family 

Usually the question that gets asked when a family is being evicted by the National Housing Corporation is: How was the title was obtained?

 
The title can be fraudulent. In many cases where families are hastily ejected from their homes, the titles are most probably fake. But how do you prove it? The courts will rule based on the documents that have been produced.
 
Police will act up on the court order given by the courts ordering eviction. The arms of the law see things in black and white, void of emotion. So an evicted tenant can’t beg the cops to have mercy. They have to carry out the court order or they will be breaking the law.
 
It’s a problem, because emotions are central to any eviction. Mothers are hurt because they can’t care for their family. Children cry. Old men who were long serving public servants feel a sense of deep helplessness.
 
To fight it in court, the victim needs a lot of money. The lawyers need a lot of resources and time to track the paper trail. They need to establish, who gave the authorisation, when? and How? The research is a killer.
 
They have to track down the paperwork or lack of it if any.
 
The NHC’s cooks target the old and vulnerable, women and orphans. They target those they think will not fight back physically or through legal means. They use aggression and intimidation to force people out of their homes.
 
I sought advice from legal eagles who say there needs to be a class action taken up by victims of National Housing Corporation evictions.
 
Our problem is that we are fighting this issue individually.
 
On several occasions, I’ve advised the victims of evictions to raise awareness on their plight. To speak out. The problem is, they expect the media to take up the fight while they continue to play the role of the disempowered victim.
 
The reason why Burphy Don and Zuabe Tinning got their houses back is because these two women took action and yelled so loud, in December when they were evicted, that it reached the halls of parliament. They were willing to take action and stand their ground. They fought the battle on multiple fronts – thought the courts, the media, their local politician and everyone around them.
 
They talked to others as well and backed up their claims with documents.
 
The crooks are afraid of the truth. You have to challenge those who come at you with supposed legal documents. They don’t expect you to track down where those documents came from.
 
Track down and expose. When you do, talk to others who are affected. Show where the crook’s weaknesses are. Ask them where they get the documents from.
 
Check the name of the magistrate who signed the documents… is he operating in his jurisdiction?

Former tenant shows how property sale went ahead without NHC management approval

A former tenant of the  National Housing Corporation (NHC)  has come forward with documents that show that the NHC management did not  know how a prime Lae property he had been living in was sold. 
Despite orders by the NHC management  to cancel the sale of the property,  the sale went ahead. 
In 2015,  the man who asked not to be identified, received   this  letter of offer  from the National Housing Corporation in Lae seeking if he would be interested in buying a property he had been living in for more than 10  years as part of the government housing giveaway scheme. 
“When I first moved in,  the house was rundown. We fixed the plumbing and sewerage.  Then when I wanted to do another set of renovations, I asked the NHC and the management said: ‘don’t put hammer and nail on it. We will give you an offer of sale.’ 
The NHC then gave him the offer of sale. 
He replied a letter of acceptance and paid a deposit of K10,000 into the National Housing Corporation Account.   The NHC, recorded the payment and gave him a receipt. 
But as he waited for the formalities to be completed, a second buyer approached him and  told him that he had,  already  in his possession, a title to the property.  
“When I asked the NHC management  about it, they were surprised that the property had been sold. 
“So all of 2017, I went back and forth to Port Moresby. I even obtained documents from the NHC.  While  waiting for them to make a decision, the new buyer forced me out.” 
Internal  documents show that NHC’s senior management  had no knowledge of the sale.  In footnotes written on internal memos,  various senior officers confirmed that the sale was done illegally. 
The  NHC’s General Manager for properties then wrote to his deputy stating:   “…There is no evidence of a valuation offer being done  and  normal conveyancing  was done outside of this office amounting to fraud. 
“The sale must be cancelled immediately to avoid further legal proceedings against the NHC…”
The memo goes further to highlight serious internal problems  that need correction. 
“…There are certain officers collaborating with Lands officers and misleading the Managing Director to have documents signed without consulting the division responsible. 
In 2015,  another Lae resident, John Bangui, faced a similar situation. He was evicted from a property in Lae City even after paying K74,000 to the NHC. 
While waiting for the  title to be issued,  the property was sold to a Lae Businessman. 
“There are corrupt elements  that take houses belonging to other people and sell it to make quick money.  It’s rotten.  I’m guessing those higher up know about it but are doing nothing.” 
John Bangui estimates that at least 40 families in Lae have either been evicted or have been threatened with eviction.