Dr Jan J. Saave, Medico extraordinaire, Malariologist, Maestro, Mentor, Linguist, and Officer of the British Empire.

April 29, 2013 at 9:14 am (Bill Brown, Commentary, Don Coffey, Dr Jan J Saave, East Sepik District, expatriates, Jim Van Der Kamp, malaria control, Maprik, Papua New Guinea)

Dave Wall & Jan Saave, some years after they left PNG

Dave Wall & Jan Saave, some years after they left PNG

“Dr Jan SAAVE, OBE (4 October 2006, aged 86 years)

“From early post Pacific War to beyond Independence Jan was a government Medical Officer in PNG and for many years directed the Malaria Eradication Program.” Harry West

Source: PNGAA Obituaries

In 1999 & 2000, Dave Wall, met up again, with his much admired, and former boss, Dr Jan J. Saave, Medico extraordinaire, Malariologist, Maestro, Mentor, Linguist,  and Officer of the British Empire. The years they served together, in Papua New Guinea, enhanced the respect Dave had for Jan, and in their meetings in Sydney, so well captured in the above photos, we see clearly the deference and respect shown by Dave towards Jan.

Jim Van Der Kamp said,

April 1, 2010 at 2:39 am

“The first Malariologist in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea was Dr.Peters who insisted that he be given sufficient funds to run a Malaria Eradication Programme being extremely expensive but limited in time. He was denied this and told to run a Control Programme, cheaper but unlimited in time. Peters resigned and Dr Jan J Saave who was a surgeon in Rabaul, took up the post under the condition that he would not be interferred with. This was approved and more or less gave him a free go as how to run his Mal-Con programme. One great disadvantage was that he was not permitted to recruit European staff overseas which left him with only being able to recruit Europeans already in the Terrtory. Dr. Peters by the way became Professor Peters of the Department of Parasitology at the Liverpool University, U.K.
“Dr Saave took on his new position with great enthusiasm. He was a very hard worker. He soon became known for his extarordinairy word choices and abbreviations. I remember: WAF, Walking About Fever, CBF, Confirmed to Bed Fever. DDD, Drug Distributin Day, amongst many more. On his visits he would give his field officers a notebook full of assignments, and he must have known that it was virtually impossible to complete all these tasks in the given time. However, he never commented if a task was not fulfilled. Off duty he was a great lover of good food and liked his cold beer, in scooners. When he was promoted, the programme was never the same, never so exciting and colourful. Dr Saave would never say, e.g: “Now listen Jim” but it was always: “My dear friend” with his index finger up. He made a lot of friends but unfortunately it was inevitable to have made enemies as well.
“I always remained grateful to him for having recruited me in January 1965 in Port Moresby. I was only 24 years old.”

From the above readers will be able to ascertain the respect that Jan Saave was held in.

Thinking about Jan a rather amusing little encounter we had many years ago comes to mind. It would have been 1965 when I was stationed at Maprik in the then East Sepik District of PNG.

There was a section in the area of malaria control that was overdue for operations. However, there was no money available to patrol and carry out these operations. This situation I made known to Malaria Service Headquarters in Moresby.

A radiogram was sent to me, presumingly from Dr Jan Saave, stating that my excuses were entirely unacceptable, and I was ordered to proceed immediately with operations, and if nesessary to utilize private funds.

After receiving this radiogram I answered by radiogram advising that I had no private funds available, and I suggested that the hat be passed around headquarters.

Don Coffey was running the post office and radio at Maprik, and skeds in the country were  an open medium for anyone to listen into. With the result that the whole station was rather amused by the radiograms. Even the ADC, Bill Brown, got a kick out of them. Bill was usually rather humourless in official matters, being a proficient and astute officer. As a result of my radiogram, I think Bill respected me somewhat more than he had previously.

A colleague of mine in the Service was visiting Moresby Headquarters at the time, and he told me that Jan picked up my radiogram in his presence, and remarked in some disgust : “This type of communication from a field officer!”

I might point out that official funds did arrive shortly after the radiograms. Don Coffey did ask me if the hat had been passed around Headquarters.

In spite of this amusing exchange I always retained a liking and respect for Dr Saave, and I often wish he was still around.

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1 Comment

  1. Lunch at Dreikikir, East Sepik District, Papua New Guinea | Stories by David Wall said,

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