THE man who was a staunch campaigner for the improvement of the National Cancer Treatment Centre in Lae has died at the hospital he served in for more than 20 years.
Former Angau Hospital oncologist Dr John Niblet died of various complications at about 7pm on Tuesday night with his wife Andrea at his hospital bedside.
As many of his close friends and colleagues began grieving for his loss, there has been a lot of anger expressed over the treatment of the cancer specialist in the 12 months leading up to his death.
In June 2016, Dr Niblet’s employment with the National Department of Health (ended and he was told his contract would not be renewed. There was not much of a warning issued by the department.
“The fact that they hadn’t told me until the last minute, whether I got a contract or not, I’ve been requesting information since before Christmas,” Dr Niblet said when speaking to EMTV News last year.
In March 2017, Dr Niblet, who had been out of a job for more than six months, was evicted from his rented accommodation in Lae. After seeking a court injunction on the grounds of his unpaid entitlements, the court issued orders for the health department to continue paying rental until he was paid.
The department never complied. Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, who came under fire from the public, said in a statement that Dr. Niblet’s entitlements had been processed and that they were “waiting for clearance from the Finance Department.”
Dr Niblet’s plight was also raised in Parliament by Lae MP Loujaya Kouza, who called on the government and the prime minister to intervene. The prime minister’s response was to call for Dr Niblet’s reinstatement if a replacement could not be found quickly.
Dr Niblet was also facing deportation as he waited for his entitlements to be paid. Close friends said his visa had expired and he faced the possibility of deportation by the foreign affairs department and was stressed by the personal crisis.
“He served this country for 30 plus years,” said wife Andrea. “And this is how he is treated.”
ARTHUR SMEDLEY writes….
IT was a sad day. Veteran oncologist Dr John Niblett has passed away at the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae, the hospital where he had worked for over four decades, having first arrived in Papua New Guinea from England in the early 1970s.
Dr Niblett had been the chief oncologist at the National Cancer Treatment Centre at Angau Memorial Hospital and had treated and cared for cancer patients in PNG for over 40 years. For almost 20 years he had been the only serving oncologist in the country.
At the time of his death he was in the middle of a court battle to have his final entitlements paid. His contract had not been renewed by the Department of Health and his visa had expired while he was ill.
In March and April this year he was still doing his rounds at ANGAU Memorial Hospital, although he was unwell himself.
Dr Niblett was 78 years old.