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13 April 2013


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Hi, we would like to donate to Barry Kirby's clinics. Is there contact details that you could provide?

I lived and worked in PNG for almost two years in 1967-69 as a plumber, drainer and gasfitter. I worked in Port Moresby, Wewak, Rabaul Cape hoskins, Talasea and finally Kimbe.

I have also been back in 1988 when I took my wife and three children to stay in a village for three weeks, not far from Kokopo.

I returned to the same village again for three weeks in 2015.

The thing I noticed the most is that vast sums of money have been spent in Port Moresby but very little in regional areas.

The roads in the East New Britain area are atrocious and the schools and medical facilities provided for by the central government are not much better.

So I would say that waiting for the government to do anything in places like Milne Bay and it's environs would be a waste of time and the best they will get, is from the programs that Dr Barry Kirby is setting up.

I am not sure if what I have done will achieve anything positive, but I felt it was the least I could do.

I have nominated Dr. Barry Kirby for the Australian of the Year Award in 2018 and asked all my friends to contact their friends and do the same.

Dr Kirby is my hero and should be the hero of all Australians.

Great initiative, Kenneth. I hope other readers will do likewise - KJ

Hello, would anybody be able to assist me with the direct contact details for Dr Barry Kirby?

I'm a student of Milne Bay descent and would love to get into contact with him for educational purposes.

It was wonderful to see Barry devoting his life to helping the women of PNG, taking up studies at 40 years of age just shows how much he wanted to make a different, I understand completely when one witnesses a preventable death and knowing you know you can help save that life.
Having to take all that time of study to be able to give that assistance shows Barry's durability and capability to achieve what he knew was necessary to helping mother and infant.

Hi, I have just watched the episode of Foreign Correspondent on Dr Barry Kirby. I loved the program and was inspired by Barry's work.

I have been twice now to PNG and have fallen in love with the country and people and would love to be able to find a way of contributing my nursing skills over there to help educate and improve the skills of those there.

Is there any way of making contact with Barry. What a wonderful man. Thank you

I find it very refreshing to hear of people like Barry Kirby in this world. I am a medical student and inspire to one day travel in the footsteps of someone like Barry. I was hoping to contact him if possible?

I have just watched Doctor Barry Kirby. What an inspiration, a great man. May he continue his work. I would like to write to him personally please.

I would like to contact Dr Barry as I keep missing him at Nimowa Ilsand

I would also like a contact for Barry in order to donate directly please. Thank you.

Can any reader assist us with a direct contact? - KJ

We are inspired by Dr Barry Kirby. We'd like to donate directly to him in cash or kind to help him continue to do his best for the people in his care.

Could we have his contact details, please? We think he's a wonderful citizen of the world. Good on ya, Barry!

A contact for Barry Kirby ahs been provided to Bernie - KJ

Harry - re your suggestion, fyi I believe the journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is about to run a feature on Barry. From memory it is scheduled for July or August.

Phil and Paul - The problem with aid programs is that the donor usually requires to be the major stakeholder and by inference the controlling influence.

I recall watching a very interesting doco about a husband and wife couple who had set up a feeding program for the homeless in Sydney.

Doing it on their own the got their food supplies provided free from supermarkets and restaurants cooked same and then delivered the meals in their old beat-up van.

When asked why they did not apply for assistance from government or other charities their reply: “Too much bureaucracy involved filling out paper work and submitting performance planning reports and customer satisfaction surveys and also they would want to run it along their models and we would lose out independence”.

The success of the good doctor's program is probably directly related to his individualistic character, which could probably be similar to that of the couple mentioned.

Jo, A well crafted and thoughtful piece that should have exposure to a wider readership.

Have you thought of perhaps targeting the medical profession through exposure in their medical journals?

Just a thought that may attract the on going patronage needed.

It is great to read Barry Kirby’s story. I intend to use it as essential reading material for our medical students.

The most important lesson to learn from this is the inspiration that comes from one man’s ability to forgo what most people take for granted (material wealth, status etc) and do what needs to be done.

For me the continuing rhetoric from politicians and bureaucrats becomes rather boring and irritating and one person’s inspirational story to do what needs to be done is refreshing and allows us to re-orient ourselves to ask what we are doing in our daily lives to contribute.

I have heard people say such a one person venture is not sustainable and that what one person achieves can be limited.

However I think the great value of such a story is that it exposes the fact that the system that is publicly funded to do this job has failed (including those who are paid to do the job and aren’t doing it).

But the greater value is the intrinsic nature of a personal story to inspire people particularly the young in educational institutions to see that life is not all about material wealth and fame and status.

I do not see many nationals doing what Kirby is doing. The societal structures that we belong to (family, clan etc) do not allow us to venture out individually. However many of our national health workers are working in similar ways within the structures of their organisations to maintain services to keep services in rural areas afloat.

Church health workers for instance, are maintaining the bulk of health services in rural areas forgoing the better conditions they would get in the public and private health sectors in urban areas.

The Churches Medical Council has collaborated with UPNG to start a Rural GP program which aims to train a rural specialist to be based in rural district hospitals.

This rural specialist will then provide leadership in providing services both in the district hospital and providing outreach services.

The first cohort in this 5 year training program will complete their training this year. They are based in church district hospitals in Kompiam, Mingende, Raihu, Vunapope, Mambisanda , Brown Health centre etc.

Others such as Tinsley, Gaubin, Rumginae, Watuluma etc are trying to attract interested national doctors and at the moment staffed by dedicated missionary doctors, many who have spent almost their entire working lives here.

Dr David Mills, the Australian Baptist doctor who coordinates the program has worked for more than 10 years in Kompiam in Enga. Currently all the trainees are church employed (at far lower salaries than what they would get in the Health Department) and are sponsored by the churches.

However we are hoping that the national and provincial governments will come on board to sponsor trainees who will be based in a rural hospital and form the district hub for rural areas and linking them to specialists in provincial hospitals.

A very interesting point Paul. Is aid a retrograde step?

The temptation to good people like Barry Kirby to step in a fix a problem is sometimes overwhelming and in his case it saves lives.

At the same time it gives the people in Moresby, whose responsibility it is to provide those services, another excuse to do nothing.

When you think about the whole kiap and other pre-independence services it was a similar scenario. We went in and did stuff, fixed things up, provided training etc etc and then we left and it all fell in a big heap.

Even the old adage about teaching a man to fish rather than just giving him fish didn't work.

Why did that happen? Why did we bother? If we'd known that everything would fall apart we could have left earlier.

Maybe Barbara Short is right in her example of New Caledonia and Tahiti. Maybe we should have snubbed our nose at the UN and stayed in PNG.

If we had stayed it might now be a different place. Less crime, good schools, good hospitals etc and maybe things like the Bougainville war wouldn't have happened.

It probably wouldn't have cost much more than what we fork out now in aid.

Like many others I was emotionally moved by this report of how one man is attempting to improve many people’s lives by his dedication and initiative.

However as Jo points out, this is just one area and there are many more areas that don’t have anyone attempting to fill the gap.

What everyone here are unfortunately being confronted with is really only the symptoms of the greater problem.

The conundrum here is at what level can the real problem be solved?

A broader issue is why more is not being done by those who are being paid to do something and whose responsibility it is to do something? Yet at what level does the buck stop?

Is this just a problem that PNG has to fix or are the authorities merely content to abrogate their responsibility and let an outsider fund and perform whatever function is possible under the circumstances?

How many PNGians might be able to follow in Dr Kirby’s footsteps but for the opportunity to do so?

Is the PNG budget not equitably divided so that everyone gets a fair share? Are those in charge unable to effectively manage the budget or is the budget just too insufficient to cope for the rapidly expanding population (i.e. roughly 1 in 3 born in the last 10 years)?

Is the AusAID funded medical assistance to PNG misdirected or mismanaged? (i.e. a warehouse full of condoms not distributed and past their use by date).

Does the continued foreign assistance actually improve anyone’s lives in the recipient country except for perhaps a few foreign consultancies and a few local elite?

It’s really hard to equate the expenditure on some matters with the desperate need of others for help. For some reason North Korea suddenly comes to mind.

I wonder when the funding and itinerary for the Australian PM’s impending visit is prepared or when she talks with the new High Commissioner are these weighty matters ever discussed?

When the Australian GG flies to Afghanistan, Antarctica or in the next few days flies over the Kokoda track and looks down on PNG has anyone ever given a serious thought about the real problem?

Harry Truman, that past US President who it is reported, refused to use his previous office to enhance his material wealth, as President had a sign on his desk that read: ‘The buck stops here’.

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