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09 June 2011

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Thanks, Peter, for that update.

Hey tambus, I hope you don't think that all Aussies are as bad as our politicians and bureaucrats make it seem. Both our countries have problems with them!

Reg - It looks like enough money has already been raised to let Aniba Petru return home with his daughter's body.

From the Cairns Post yesterday -

______________________________________________

PAPUA New Guinean father Aniba Petru no longer needs to face the horrific eight hour journey in a dinghy to take his daughter's body home after an outpouring of generosity from the Cairns community.

Thousands of dollars have been donated to the grieving father after his story was revealed in The Cairns Post.

Mr Petru will fly with his daughter’s body to Horn Island on Friday on a Qantas flight. From there they will take a charter flight to Daru, paid for by donations – instead of an eight-hour dinghy ride – then make his way to his home town, Kadawa, for the funeral.

"I would really thank everyone in the community and Queensland Health, which has helped us to get home," he said. "I am very happy."

"When I go back, I will tell my family what has happened here." Losing his daughter to a highly-resistant strain of tuberculosis four months ago, Mr Petru struggled to find a way home to bury 14-year-old Martha...

The Queensland Government refused to fund a return trip to his village in PNG’s Western Province, but offered to take him as far as Saibai Island.

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, who formed a benevolence fund for the family, said he was overwhelmed by the response.

"The Cairns community and the broader Australian community has shown that we’re better than some of our bureaucrats," he said.

"I hope this situation here will be a catalyst to show them what they’re doing here is just wrong."

KJ - First, we try DFAT as suggested by Dr Gideon Gelesi to repatriate Aniba and his daughter, Martha.

Secondly, could PNG Attitude launch through some relevant benevolent people in Cairns a 'City Donation Appeal' drive to help Aniba?

There are many Torres Strait islanders and Papuans living in North Qld who will not think twice to chip in, and help a poor Papuan father and her dead daughter.

Third, I will again send all the blog comments here to Governor Dr. Bob Danaya to ask for his help as Aniba Petrus is from his electorate in the Western Province.

As a PNGean, I just feel very discouraged at the pontificating going on in this case.

I always thought Aussies were our mates to help here in whatever ways.

Is it about the money? And why the red tape? It should not be allowed here to prolong Aniba's nightmarish ordeal.

Australia spends millions in the boat people issue. But find it almost impossible to do anything here, except make it very difficult for a Papuan father wanting to take his dead daughter home, so he can properly bury her at their home village.

Harry - some of the the locals have had their say in the the Torres News.

http://www.torresnews.com.au/

They seem to be of mixed opinion - some complaining about the influx of PNG people, others calling for a more humanitarian approach.

Do we have any Torres people here who can give us an opinion?

In the emotive boilover of the issue I omitted to mention a question having equivalent relevance.

Have the other stakeholders in this issue, namely the affected permanent residents of these islands, even been asked for their opinion in this issue?

I think not!

Withdrawing the services of a TB specialist from the Torres Strait frontline will not stop PNG people from traveling to the islands for medical help whilst the PNG health authorities cannot even supply the basic level of health care.

I pity those medicos remaining when, faced with having to provide health care without prejudice to visitors, they have to tell the patients "Sorry we cannot do anything to help you."

This matter raises an very interesting issue: whatever happened to the previous inoculation programs in use some 30 years ago.

Basic research on this subject shows that TB prevention and control takes two parallel approaches. In the first, people with TB and their contacts are identified and then treated. Identification of infections often involves testing high-risk groups for TB.

In the second approach, children are vaccinated to protect them from TB. No vaccine is available that provides reliable protection for adults.

Whilst the prognosis for adult suffering from TB may be less that favourable, for the sake of future humanity the minimal cost for implementing a proper inoculation program for children would not only be a lot cheaper but also have a more long term productive outcome.

Would some good people please stand up and, forgetting who is or is not responsible, take the bit between the teeth and undertake such a small task.

TB (multi-resistant TB), cholera, or any other communicable disease will prove devastating to the Australian public as the PNG government lacks leadership and as the politicians continue their own battle to survive in the political arena.

Keith, as the saying goes, the elephants fight and the grass dries underneath... PNG Health is dysfunctional and dead! See the cholera epidemic story and you will now how, or is it why?

My condolences to Mr Petru. My suggestion is can we get the Department of Foreign Affairs to repatriate his daughter back home?

We are well aware of health issues facing our people in PNG and were not surprised when this news came about the late Martha Petru (bless her soul).

The majority of PNG people are not satisfied with the government’s performance for decades now mainly on this number one issue of health.

Has any government in the world provided: life free from the threat of war; ample food for everyone; comfortable housing for everyone; satisfying employment for all who need it so that they can provide for themselves and their families; justice, freedom from religious, racial, economic and national prejudice; enjoyment of security without danger to one’s person or property from criminals; a world in which the qualities most highly prized include love, kindness, concern for ones fellow man and truthfulness?

Human rulers are not providing what mankind urgently needs and instead are involved a materialistic world crowding out the more important things that really matter.

UPDATE

Dad told take girl's body home in dinghy - Evan Schwarten, AAP

A Papua New Guinea father who rushed his dying daughter to Australia for treatment is facing an eight-hour journey in an open boat to take her coffin back to their village for burial.

Desperate to save his 14-year-old daughter Martha, who was sick with tuberculosis, Aniba Petru journeyed by boat from his village of Kadawa in PNG's western province to the Torres Strait island of Saibai.

Martha died in Cairns Hospital a week later.

Mr Petru then spent three months in isolation at the hospital as he underwent treatment for the disease.

Now, he wants to take his daughter home for burial, but the Queensland government says they can take him only as far as Saibai.

From there, he'll have to get back in a dinghy and take his daughter's coffin home.

Federal member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch called on the state and federal governments to do more to help Mr Petru.

"We should be showing compassion to this poor bugger and assisting him in every way we can to get home and give his daughter a dignified burial," he told AAP.

Mr Entsch said the treatment of Mr Petru was worse than that given to rejected asylum seekers.

"If you bought an illegal ticket in an illegal boat to come here and you have your claim for asylum rejected, you get cash and a flight back to where you've come from."

Mr Entsch has established a fund to raise the $15,000 needed to fly Mr Petru and his daughter home.

Donations can be made to an account set up at Cairns Penny Savings and Loans.

The account details are: Office of Warren Entsch MP Benevolence Account, BSB: 704966 Account number: 100012 234.

Taking over the British Colony of Papua in 1905, Australia as guardian and or godparent should not stop helping care for it's constituents.

Even though, as a young adult, Papua has grown into union within Papua New Guinea, it's still young and can't fully stand on its own two feet.

Though fully fledged citizenship has been estranged, we are still part of the family be it acknowledged or not. What good parent will not continue to love and care for its children and family members, and what better a way to show love and consideration than by helping people in times of sickness.

Australians, we are your close kinfolk. Please don't leave us out in the wilderness to die. Please send your doctors and emissaries to help us especially in times when sickness threatens.

Don't let your people who cheer on the Origins die doubly of brokenhearts left outside the family back door to die.

One solution would seem to be to continue the TB clinics, but take the funding out of the yearly aid Australia supplies to PNG.

If PNG is incapable of providing such a service, we do it for them, but ultimately it comes at the cost of reduced aid.

I feel for Petru. His love for his daughter drove him to this current destination and the situation he is in.

Many people in the rural areas of PNG have similar experiences.

On the front page of Sunday Chronicle (05/06/11) a few young Goilala men from Port Moresby carried coffins across fast flowing rivers and treacherous gorges into the interior of the Goilala mountains to bury their dead.

I also had a similar experience in 2009 looking for help to transport the corpse of my elder brother in the morgue at Kundiawa town to the northern foot of the Kubour range where cars can’t go.

My tribesmen and I toiled till we finally had my brother buried on our tribal land. Our day to day existence coils around our relationship with both the dead and those alive in our bloodline. Whether alive or dead we can't be separated.

I think I know what Petru feels at this time of loss and hardship. Unless he buries his daughter on his tribal land he will never live with peace of mind for the rest of his life. Petru’s flight is a daily encounter. Please, Lord help!


Ditto for me, Martyn. My condolences go to Mr Aniba Petru for losing his daughter. I feel his grief.

I have sent this story with your response by email to Governor Bob Danaya, so he and his administration can try to address this sad state of affairs in our country.

Martyn - You are right of course that it is primarily PNG's responsibility.

But PNG has spectacularly failed to provide decent health services to its people since independence. In fact the health indicators are such that on almost every measure PNG is worse off now than it was at independence.

I believe Australian governments are motivated to some extent by self-interest - not wanting a TB epidemic to spread to the mainland for instance.

But many people are also moved by the humanitarian desire to help people in genuine need. As the Cairns doctor said: “We cannot turn them away.”

Operation Open Heart is another good example.

The Governor of Western Province is a medical doctor - a consultant paediatrician. That however is no comfort for the people as the public health system is a failure.

Clearly, Australians have genuine concerns as multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) becomes more prevalent along the border and poses a risk to those who live in the Torres Straits.

Ultimately though, it is PNG's responsibility to provide healthcare for its citizens. Western Province people have been failed by their own so-called leaders as well as the Health Department.

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