Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Doctors attacked

MSF team evacuated from Tari


A TEAM of foreign doctors and nurses who were offering their services free of charge in Tari, Southern Highlands province, were evacuated after two of them were attacked by a drunk over the weekend, The National reports.

The team of six was evacuated from Tari to Port Moresby on Sunday by a chartered aircraft following the attack.

A male and a female member of the team were attacked on Saturday evening by a man employed as a security guard at the hospital.

The man, who is now in police custody, turned up for work drunk, and was asked to go home to rest so he could return later to work sober.

However, he refused, and instead attacked the two members of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), commonly referred to as Doctors Without Borders.

A male member of the MSF team received a cut to the left ear that required stitches, while a female member received bruises.

The drunk man also smashed the windshield of a vehicle used by the MSF.

The team included two doctors, two nurses, a technician and their coordinator.

The incident was confirmed by Tari Hospital chief executive officer Dr Bravy Koensong.

The MSF team has been in Tari for about six months, helping to restore a hospital that had not functioned for 15 years.

“We worked hard to rebuild this place with the help of MSF, and we do not need this. In keeping with their (MSF) principles, services here relating to trauma and violence are free.

“In the last five months, things have really improved, especially the hospital ground and facilities, and the patient referral system is functioning.

“We also have the Clinton Foundation here. They opened their clinic here two months ago.

“How can we guarantee their future here?

“We are calling on the local community to give us an assurance on our security.”

Dr Koensong said Tari had a big problem with alcohol and drug abuse.

“I must admit that there is a big problem with alcohol and drugs. About 70% of violence here is related to alcohol and drugs. There should be a liquor ban here.”

He praised the community for getting the suspect into police custody.

“The local people here are outraged by the attack. They are contributing money to repair the vehicle, and will kill pigs for the team on their return.”

Improvement to the Tari hospital under Dr Koensong, and the work of the MSF has attracted patients from as far away as Mt Bosavi, Kandep, Porgera and Lake Kopiago.

The MSF team’s contract was to expire in December.

The MSF head of mission, Marc Galinier, confirmed that the team had been evacuated.

Mr Galinier said: “I am not sure what triggered the incident against my workers who had been providing a satisfactory secondary medical service that had been missing in this part of PNG for the last 15 years.”

He said he was worried about the security of the volunteers, and was in discussions with them about their future in Tari.


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