SO here I was at Mirsey health sub-centre in the Ambunti area of the upper Sepik. There was no oxygen, the hydrocortisone and salbutamol had run out and even the manual foot pump for nebulising the patient was malfunctioning.
Martin, my patient, was developing severe shortness of breath and was cyanosed due to lack of oxygen. Even the antibiotics had not helped. He was restless and gasping for air.
I tried to resuscitate him but failed. He needed anti-asthma drugs to revive him. The only option was to refer him to Boram hospital in Wewak - 14 hours by dinghy along the main Sepik River and then by ambulance to Wewak.
After sorting out the fuel and the boat operator we trundled off following a tributary of the Sepik. Due to low water levels and submarine tree stumps, we could not travel at speed.
At seven o’clock in the night my patient Martin told me to stop and turn back to the health centre. I hesitated. My aim was to save his life.