Sorry Doesn’t Cut It

Posted in Opinions on December 2nd, 2008 by MadDog
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Here is a photo of the work in progress on the Modilon General Hospital Maternity Ward: Work in progress on the Modilon General Hospital Maternity WardIt’s not a very good photo, but this post is not about fancy pictures.

I am much in favour of improvements to our health care system. The work above is a good example of that. However the interim arrangements for the care of mothers about to deliver their babies present some problems.

I couldn’t tell it any better than I have in my letter to the Acting CEO of Modilong General Hospital:

DATE: 2 December 2008

TO: The Acting CEO
Modilon General Hospital
P. O. Box 2119

RE: Failure of ambulance service to provide transportation in an emergency.

At 03:00 Monday, 1 December 2008, I was awakened by my security guard who told me that there was a woman in front of my house who was about to give birth.

I called the hospital, explained that it was an emergency, and was told that the maternity ward was closed for six months and that the woman would have to go to Alexishafen or Yagam. They said that they would provide no transportation.

What I WAS NOT TOLD is that there are emergency facilities for birthing mothers at the Modilon General Hospital. As far as I am concerned, they lied to me.

While my wife was on the phone, she was told that she would be transferred to the ambulance driver. Nobody ever answered at that number.

The woman had arrived only that morning from Port Moresby and knew nothing about where she had to go or what facilities were available.

Because of the complete failure of the staff on duty to provide emergency transportation and care for the woman, I had to take her in my private car to Alexishafen. In doing so, I exposed the patient and myself to great risk. I have no medical training. I would therefore have been unable to assist her. I also exposed myself to the possibility of compensation demands in case something went wrong.

Judging from the sounds I heard coming from the area as I was walking to my car, I suspect that the woman gave birth within a few minutes of our arrival.

I consider the lack of proper judgment, the lying, the total unconcern for a suffering patient, and the complete failure of the staff on duty that morning to act in accordance with the principles of the medical profession to be sufficient grounds for an investigation of the matter. Furthermore, I expect to see an investigation and I wish to be informed of the results.

Thank you, and convey my thanks to Irene also for the support you both offered to me during our conversation this morning. I fully respect your professional courtesy and am satisfied that you will take action in this matter in accord with your good judgment.

With respect,
Jan Messersmith

I was treated with respect and obvious concern when I discussed the situation with the Acting CEO and her PR Officer Irene Silas. I have absolutely no argument with them.

However, as a firm believer in public shaming, I’m stating that I believe that the persons who showed such heartless unconcern for a sister in desperate need should be held accountable for their unprofessional and inhumane behavior.

UPDATE: No word on an investigation yet, but it’s far too soon to expect anything. The good news is that the young mother was transferred to the Modilon General Hospital the following day and delivered her baby at about five o’clock in the afternoon. A long two days for her! Mom and baby are doing well. I’ll not dwell on the irony that, after all the fuss of the night before, she was taken to the very place that I was told not to take her. So it goes.

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CWA – Madang

Posted in CWA, PNG Culture on October 12th, 2008 by MadDog
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This Sunday morning, I’d like to present an article that I asked Maureen Hill to write for Madang – Ples Bilong Mi. People in these parts are familiar with CWA, but I’d like for readers in other places to know something about this energetic and vital community organization.

So, settle in for an interesting read. Here’s a photo of the CWA Cottage in Madang:

The CWA Cottage in Madang




The CWA, as the Country Women’s Association is better known, was assisted in its establishment by the Australian administration at the time they were dividing PNG up into provinces and appointing District Commissioners to the provinces.

CWA was an organization known in Australia for the help it gave to families who lived in the out back of Australia. The kind of help given was to provide places for women to come and stay while they waited for their babies to arrive, to come to town for other health reasons or shopping purposes. Men were also welcome.

At that time there were Australian families being sent to outstations in PNG who were going to require the same services as was given by CWA in Australia.

While seeking land to build the District Commissioners house land was also sought to establish a CWA close at hand.

The Madang CWA was opened in 1952. It was a small building at that time on a choice block of land with lots of room for expansion.

As PNG has changed so has CWA over the years.

Madang CWA still has a guest house that profits from go to support the organization’s projects.


CWA provides women in Madang a meeting place to find friends, learn new skills and find ways to raise money to help women and children in the community.

All CWA projects are to help women and children (families) in the Madang province.

Apart from the staff (7), who manage the guest house side of the organization all members are volunteers giving freely of their time to raise funds and run the programs.

Programs Include:

Kindergaden Long Ples (KLP):
A village based kindergarten program that operates in villages in the Gogol, inland Madang and up the North Coast. Village parents organize the kindergartens while CWA provides office space, transport, training and monitoring of the teachers and supplying of materials. It has been operating since 1982.

Early Childhood Health Care Program (ECHP):
This is a program that CWA started operating in 1996 to help improve the health of children in the villages where the KLP kindergartens are established. A CWA appointed nurse (HEO) goes to the villages to give health education to parents and children. She also does health evaluations on the children. If there are health problems, she advises the parents on ways to help the child or, if necessary, she advises the parents to seek further medical help.

Village Health Volunteers (VHV):
This program works in conjunction with the Madang health Dept to train village women to become health volunteers in their respective village. This training provides training in birth attending and general health work. This course is accredited by the Madang Health Dept and when the volunteers have finished their two year course they receive a Health Dept Certificate.

Adult Tok Pisin Literacy Classes (TPL):
These classes started in 2006 are designed to teach women who have no reading or writing skills. There is a great need for this.

CWA hopes at a later stage to have teacher training workshops to train women to go to their villages and hold literacy classes there.

Children’s Ward Modilon Hospital:
CWA has been a major sponsor of the Children’s ward at Modilon hospital ever since the hospital was built. Currently CWA pays much of the maintenance for the ward and weekly supplies vegetables, eggs and milk for the children.

Village Birthing Houses:
CWA has helped fund houses in villages for mothers to give birth in privacy and traditionally.

Over the years CWA has helped many students with school fees and supplied much in the way of books stationary and sports equipment to various schools.

Play Group:
A play group meets on a regular basis at the cottage it is operated by willing volunteers and funded by CWA.


Membership to CWA costs K10.00 a year.

The Branch and Guest House are managed by a volunteer committee elected on an annual basis.

Most of the mentioned programs are funded by money raised by the volunteer members.

All of this is only possible by the tremendous community support given to CWA when fund raising events are held.

My thanks go to Maureen for that interesting report.

Here’s a shot of Maureen from a previous post about Project Handclasp and the visit of the USS Peleliu to Madang:

Maureen and kids

Cheers to all the ladies (and gentlemen) of CWA! (Yes, they do allow male members. I joined several years ago.)

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