AFTER A WEEK OF MUCH activity, it looks like the Francis Nii Appeal has met the costs of providing basic equipment to aid for the healing of one of Papua New Guinea’s most talented writers, paraplegic Francis Nii, this past year confined by pressure sores to a hospital bed.
In this article, I’d like to share with readers the steps we’re taking to ease Francis’s way and enable him to sit again and use a wheelchair.
At a macro level, what you're going to read will provide insights into the flaws in PNG’s health system even in the great population centres like the Simbu, where Francis occupies a place in Sir Joseph Nombri Hospital in Kundiawa.
Air mattress & cushioning - $3,600
The reason the pressure sores haven’t healed for the last year, in fact the cause of them, is that Francis uses a thin, rigid mattress.
Our research led us to supply a top-of-the-range air mattress overlay to place on the hard mattress now endured by him. This mattress allows the body to “lie-into” rather than rest on top.
The special design allows areas where pressure sores are located to not be impacted by the harsh contact of body weight upon the mattress. Instead, the surrounding areas take the weight and support the injured areas and not interfere with the body’s natural healing processes.
The same principle applies to the wheeIchair cushion. When Francis is able to use a chair again, this cushion will work to shield his backside from focussed pressure. The weight is spread around the surrounding firm-fleshed areas prevent the development of pressure sores.
Francis’s current wheelchair is a Model T. The new chair is of modern engineered construction to facilitate Francis getting the most out of it relative to his body shape and size.
It is a vehicle that allows minimum exertion to gain the beneficial momentum to carry him efficiently whether indoors and outdoors.
In the event that Francis later requires power-assist to ensure mobility, the chair is able to accept an add-on powerpack at additional cost not budgeted for.
Laptop computer - $1,000
If you’ve been following the Francis Nii story, you’ll know that he composes his stories and essays on a mobile phone. It is slow and exacting work.
That’s why we have decided to ensure he can write easily and efficiently by furnishing him with a new laptop computer. The machine is being obtained locally and is being set up with software owned by Simbu Children Foundation.
Adjustable table - $600
To facilitate the use of the computer in the limited physical postures available to Francis at present, Mal Turnbull, managing director of Seating Dynamics, is sourcing an adjustable table to become an integral part of Francis’s office environment.
Currently two positions are practical for Francis, flat on back and flat on stomach. As his healing progresses, and sitting is possible, the table will morph into an office desk to ater for a person occupying a wheelchair.
Nutrients & other health items - $1,500 over 1 year
Important to Francis’s healing is his ability to sustain body health during the journey to recovery and beyond. Francis has already pointed out that bone density is a critical factor in preserving a healthy condition.
To start ramping up and sustaining conditioning, we will provide a 12 month supply of nutritional supplements.
We are assured that Francis’s basic protein requirements can be found in eggs readily available through local sources. To date, his problem has been an inability to afford to buy eggs.
Calcium requirements may be met with vitamin supplements, and we will provide a range of these to build back his strength and health and then to sustain it.
Francis’s daily diet is presently basic hospital fare. And that is very basic. Anything extra must be funded personally. We will be ensuring that a proper diet is available to Francis.
Clinical review & expert medical attention - $???
This is proving the most difficult need to meet. To fly Francis to Port Moresby or Australia for medical review and possible treatment is way beyond the capabilities of our project, although we’re trying to secure external assistance for this.
An alternative may be to fly the expertise to Francis. We’ll have a bit of money left over to do this. But if any reader has a link to people or institutions which will help address this issue, of course we’d like to hear from you. Drop us a message using the Comment link below.
Finally, I need to pay tribute to Mal Turnbull, mentioned above, and Terry Shelley of the Nowek Group at Goroka. Mal has arranged a stunning 40% discount on products supplied to Francis and Terry is donating the costs of freight as well as personally delivering the goods overland to Kundiawa.
Without people like this, the world would simply not work.