IT’S a Saturday and I am at the hospital with my two-year-old son, Bobby.
We’ve been here for an hour now. Security told us to wait until the counter opened so we could get a number to see the nurse.
Around us, mothers and their sick children wait patiently. Some kids are so weak and their body temperatures so high that their mums sponge them as they cry. It’s a sight every mother knows too well.
After two hours of waiting, things have not progressed because the counter clerk and the nurse have not arrived and it’s already 4 pm. Some mothers have given up and gone home, while others are resilient, hoping a nurse will eventually turn up.
As I sit looking at these people around me, my attention is caught by an elderly woman with a little girl about six or seven. They are sitting on the form next to us. The child breathes heavily as her grandmother continuously sponges her with cold water. The child is so weak, she cannot even sit up.
I look at my watch and it’s 5:30 pm, so I decide to go home and come back the next day.
On Sunday, I wake up very early to take Bobby back to hospital. As we arrive at 6:40 am, there’s already a queue. Then a woman taps me on the shoulder. I look at her and remember her from yesterday.
We greet each and she tells me of the little girl and her grandmother. The little girl died that night in the hospital. I couldn’t believe the news. My new friend tells me she was the last one to leave the hospital and saw what happened.
She said the little girl had grown weaker as they waited for the nurse to arrive. But no nurse turned up and by the time the grandmother consulted with a doctor it was too late.
My thoughts took me to the loving grandmother tenderly sponging her granddaughter while waiting so patiently for help. It broke my heart and it angered me that, although they were already in the hospital, the girl had to die.
I think she could have been alive today had the nurse turned up for her shift.
Many people die due to ignorance of the people who are trained and put in charge of delivering services.
This story is not an isolated one and it didn’t happen in a remote part of PNG, it happened in the capital city, Port Moresby.
The negligence of the nurse and the staff led to the loss of a life so young.
It’s too common an event in this country, public servants always making people wait for them. And it’s not only in hospitals, it’s everywhere.
In the schools teachers don’t turn up to teach; in government departments officers don’t turn up for duty.
Many people complain about it, yet nothing is done because we have come to accept this as a way of life.
I’m writing this for the little girl I saw lying on her grandmother’s lap fighting for her life silently.
Rest well little one!