DEATH OF PIONEER FEMALE DOCTOR IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 5, 2000 – Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Savior Lutheran Church in Lae was filled to capacity with family, friends, relatives and the public to farewell one of the country's first national female doctors.

The funeral service was filled with words of praise for Dr. Lenga Yuyutine Dopenu.

Dr. Dopenu, a retired doctor, died just two weeks before she was due to receive an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to health and the community.

Also present at the church service were Morobe Governor Luther Wenge, Lae City Lord Mayor Toffamo Mionzing, and Engineer Battalion and Igam Barracks commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Fabila.

Mr. Wenge said to show respect for Dr. Dopenu, the provincial government had decided to host another funeral and build a graveyard for her.

"I am here to show respect for this woman and I take my hat off to her and salute her for the services she has done for the province," Mr. Wenge said.

He also paid tribute to her parents, Zozingau and Junamu, for ensuring their daughter went to school, as during those early days many parents did not let their daughters go to school.

"Her good parents saw the potential in her and made sure she went to school," he said.

At the age of 16, Lenga won a scholarship in 1956 for secondary schooling at Blackheath Girl's School at Charters Tower, Queensland. She returned home and undertook nursing training at the then Papuan Medical School in Port Moresby in 1959.

With outstanding performances, she took up medicine and graduated with a diploma in tropical medicine in 1966. She spent two years at Taurama and Kainantu hospitals to become a registered medical officer at the end of 1968.

In 1974, she acquired a postgraduate diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from the University of Sydney, Australia. Two years later, she received her postgraduate diploma in child health care at the University of PNG. She graduated with her brother, Dr. Nane Zozingau.

Dr. Dopenu returned to Lae in 1981 and spent the next 18 years serving the province until her death.

Her first appointment was as assistant secretary for the division of health until 1983. She was a senior medical officer with Angau Memorial Hospital, and was appointed Medical Superintendent in 1984.

Apart from her medical work, she also held various positions in other organizations. She was a board member of Balob Teachers' College, Lae City Authority, provincial education board, the Country Women's Association council and the home of the disabled. She also was involved in church and community work as well as a life member of the Young Women's Christian Association.

Dr. Dopenu died from a stroke. She was buried at Butibam village. She is survived by her husband, Kelly Dopenu, daughter Florence and sons Erick, Barnabas, Theodore, Tukari and Joel and grandchildren.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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