By JOHN FOWKE
Former kiap (patrol officer)
Papua New Guinea’s “poorest” region, the resource rich Western Province, home to the multi billion kina Ok Tedi mine, ranks just above Zimbabwe but below the Democratic Republic of Congo in terms of human development.
This is according to new data unveiled by Deakin University’s expert in international development, Professor Mark McGillivray, at the recent PNG: Securing a Prosperous Future Conference.
“If PNG’s Western Province was a country there would be an international outcry about their plight, given its appalling low levels of human development,” McGillivray said.
McGillivray’s analysis used the principles of the Human Development Index (HDI) to create a new measure which specifically looked at the districts and provinces in Papua New Guinea.
This has not been done before.
"The HDI is well-known and widely used in research and policy circles,” McGillivray explained.
“It combines achievements in health, education and income and is primarily used to compare levels of human development between countries.
“The Human Development Index is typically applied at the level of countries, not to parts of countries.
"This means that it is blind to achievements and disparities within countries.
“When we apply the principles of the Index to provinces and districts within PNG, we find not only huge disparities but levels of human development that are extremely low by international standards.”
McGillivray said, based on one version of the HDI, PNG is ranked 121 out of 137 countries, so down towards the bottom.
“Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe has the lowest level of human development and is ranked 137, at the very bottom,” McGillivray said.
“The conflict-affected Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked 136.
“Yet if the resource rich Western Province was a country it would be ranked in between Zimbabwe and Congo and as such among the three very poorest in the world in terms of human development.”
And that’s just the Western Province.
What about my dear, poor old Gulf?
What about populous but forgotten places like Gumine, Baiyer River, all of the Sepik apart from Wewak?
To say nothing of the outpatients department at the nation’s largest hospital at Taurama?
What the hell is wrong?
Why is it necessary that Angau Hospital, the nation’s second largest, and Tari Hospital, serving more than 150,000 people, are both under the administration and operational control of Medecins Sans Frontieres, directed to PNG by a very dissatisfied WHO some five years ago?
Where is any sign of shame or remorse, or attempted restoration of efficiency and services here in the 'Land of the Unexpectedly Well-rewarded Ruling Class'?And without any apparent cohesion among aspiring new MPs, aside from stated intent to remain in power by the existing, damaged and stale “use-by-date-expired” political groups, what hope is there for real, swift and meaningful reform?
Lets hear something positive from the hopeful 3,000 candidates.
But will we?