Kiunga is just 137km from the ‘world class’ Ok Tedi mine and is the main port for the dispatch and receipt of goods and services from the mine. All the mine concentrate is filtered, dried and stockpiled in Kiunga before being shipped.
The Ok Tedi mine has been exporting gold silver and copper for over 30 years, precious metals with a value that runs to many billions of dollars; but the local hospital has not had a doctor for 20 years…
Hospital without a doctor for 20 years
Jacklyn Sirias | The National aka The Loggers Times | August 11, 2017
THE Kiunga district hospital in Western has been without a doctor for more than 20 years, Nursing Services director Thomas Tepend says.
He told The National in Kiunga that the hospital operation was being run by 29 staff made up of 19 community health workers and 10 nurses including himself.
“I have been working with the hospital for more than 14 years now. The last government doctor left us in 1997,” he said.
Tepend said they usually get more than 100 patients a day.
“The big projects in the province are attracting a lot of people and the population has increased,” he said.
“Thus the number of patients we receive per day has also increased.”
Tepend said government funding at times failed to reach them because of the hospital’s remote location.
In 2009, the hospital entered a public-private partnership which saw Ok Tedi Mining Limited through the North Fly Development Programme contribute funding and support.
It enabled the hospital to recruit two medical officers, an anaesthetist and a hospital administrator.
One of the medical officers, Dr Asael Kaptigau, said under the arrangement, they were trying to rebuild the health system.
“Under the PPP structure, we come in to assist the hospital where we can in terms of the health programmes in the province,” he said.
He said their two-year contract would expire next year.
He urged the health department to send government doctors before their contract expired.