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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 19) – The Papua New Guinea Nurses Association has called on the community in Kerema town to help maintain law and order in the area to them to work without fear.

Association General Secretary Murray Paiva said in a statement that there had been criminal attacks on nurses at Kerema General Hospital and it was not safe to work there any more.

Mr Paiva said recently an incident involving some people spilled over to the hospital and staff, resulting in the closure of the hospital. 

He said he had written to the provincial administrator and raised the concerns of the nurses and other health workers.

"The hospital has been operating under very difficult circumstance, including clinical staffing shortage, space problems, water problems and the general condition of the building and facilities,’’ he said.

"The least one would expect is the community, the people who need health services to be sympathetic but what do they do? Steal property, harass workers, and eventually close the hospital down.

"Who suffers in the end? Of course, the people of Gulf Province.’’

He also called on Labor and Employment Department Secretary Margaret Elias to direct the Health Department to close the Lorengau Hospital due to continuing shortage of a reliable water supply to the hospital.

He said an inspection carried out by Labour and Employment inspectors during 2001 strongly recommended to the Labor Secretary to shut down the hospital and shift staff and services to Lombrum naval base.

However, to date no tangible action has taken place.

"The association is concerned that nurses and other health workers are continuously working under a real danger of contracting infectious disease. In fact there are already known cases of hospital staff contracting typhoid due to working under unhealthy conditions,’’ Mr Paiva said.

January 20, 2004

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