SAIHO Hospital in the Sohe District of Oro Province during the colonial period was a first class hospital and training facility.
First constructed in 1951 as a tent hospital (picture) by Roger Claridge to cater for victims of the Mount Lamington eruption, it evolved into a premier facility under the colonial administration that trained many health workers and served the populous Central Kaiva area and surrounding areas.
Oro Governor Gary Juffa’s mother trained and served at the hospital and the Governor spent a portion of his early childhood in its precincts.
After independence in 1975, the hospital deteriorated due to lack of attention by successive PNG governments and its buildings rotted away and services declined.
It is now a former shadow of the once bustling hospital that housed doctors, nurses and health workers.
There are no doctors and a handful of nurses and orderlies. There is only one ambulance and the condition of the health infrastructure is minimal.
Governor Juffa visited Saiho Hospital immediately after taking office and vowed to restore it to its former glory. He has kept his word, allocating an initial K500,000 of his 2013 Provincial Improvement Program to carry out general maintenance and restore electric power. The work will also include the repair of toilets, wards and offices.
Contractors have been working to maintain the power supply and undertake general maintenance. Plans are underway to establish an office for volunteer workers who regularly visit Oro to immunise and carry out health outreach programs.
The Perpetual Niugini company has been working intensely to bring about the restoration of Saiho Hospital and significant changes are already visible.
Governor Juffa inspected the work undertaken this week and expressed satisfaction at the quality and progress.
“In due time, we shall restore Saiho Hospital to its full potential, serving the 50, 000 people of area with doctors, health workers and nurses,” he said.
“ I hope to use it as a training station and a base for the many volunteers we are bringing into Oro to help build our province. Health is a primary pillar in the development of any society and economy.
“No economy can progress without good health. Its one of the basic steps we are undertaking to rebuild our province. I shall be working closely with Local Level Government and local politicians to restore Saiho and other facilities in the province.”
The facility will include the building of a Saiho Police Patrol and five police houses as well as a TB treatment and eradication facility. The Governor also hopes to establish a women’s medical clinic and a children’s outpatient facility and ward.