The fight against malaria – a group of professionals

December 12, 2013 at 7:34 am (Commentary, malaria control)

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Lunch at Dreikikir, East Sepik District, Papua New Guinea

May 16, 2013 at 4:29 am (Commentary, David Wall, Dr Jan J Saave, Dreikikir, East Sepik District, expatriates, Fr John O'Toole, Jock McIntyre, Kami Raymundus, malaria control, Maprik, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Robert Desowitz, Salata Village, Wally Trueman or Truman)


A luncheon party in my spacious bush material house, with remarkable guests, some fifty years ago at Dreikikir Patrol Post.

The fare was not remarkable, but more than adequate given the time and place.

Baked beef served cold with potatoes in dressing and lettuce, washed down with a good supply of Victoria Bitter. There was an ample supply of bread and butter. The main course was followed with tropical fruits and coffee.

A good part of this food was flown in by Catholic Mission planes once a week, on a landing strip that was rather famous in having a church at one end, and a hospital at the other – given the shape and nature of the strip, physical and spiritual succour were more than needed!

In attendance serving the guests were two memorable house boys: Kami and Kitahi.

See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2013/05/kami-raymundus-of-torembi-mankimasta-and-friend.html#more

The guest of honour was Professor Robert S. Desowitz, then with the University of Singapore as Chair of Medical Parasitology. He was an authority in his field and subsequently he became world famous.

See: http://www.ajtmh.org/content/78/6/849.short

Professor Desowitz

Professor Desowitz was a congenial and appreciative guest, and he was accompanied by Dr Jan J. Saave.

Desowitz and Saave came up from a village called Salata, some distance away towards Maprik where they were involved in research into immunity factors in malaria.

See: https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/dr-jan-j-saave-medico-extraordinaire-malariologist-maestro-mentor-linguist-and-officer-of-the-british-empire/#respond

Another guest was Father John O’Toole, who lived in the Catholic Mission Station at the end of the airstrip. O’Toole was a Bostonian and a man of impressive qualities.

See: https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/some-svd-members-i-knew-in-png/

Another guest, Jock McIntyre was the patrol officer in-charge at Dreikikir Patrol Post. Jock loved a social gathering and a drink.

See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2012/09/jock-mcintyre-kiap-adventurer-formidable-companion.html#comments

With the others was Wally Truman or Trueman. Wally was the primary school teacher stationed at Dreikikir. He was a very obliging man, and an excellent teacher. At the lunch, Wally did a lot assisting with the catering. He was to see out his term teaching in PNG, and the last I heard of him was that he married and settled in Queensland, where, as far as I know, he continued teaching. His whereabouts now are unknown to me.

During the lunch a lively conversation was carried on. The Professor and Fr O’Toole got on very well being fellow Americans.

Dr Saave referred to the camping site in Salata Village as the Salata Hilton, and Professor Desowitz sat with an amused look smoking his pipe.

As the afternoon progressed, Dr Saave excused himself to check on the patients in the hospital and to lend assistance if it were needed.

Things about Dreikikir were fairly quiet on this day as it was a Sunday.

Looking back it was a privilege for me to have been the host to such a distinguished group, and a sobering thought for me that it is I who is probably the only one still alive, that is if Wally is no longer here on earth.

See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2013/03/my-story-from-greenhorn-planter-to-a-true-man-of-png-david-wall-on-a-colonial-life-and-beyond.html#comments

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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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An excellent review of A.C.T. Marke’s latest novel

November 23, 2012 at 1:51 am (A.C.T. Marke, Adolf Hitler, Book review, Commentary, East Sepik District, expatriates, Famous Old Wellingtonians, Fiction, Israel, Love in a hot climate, Love on the Run, malaria control, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Sepik River, Somerset, Temlett Conibeer, Third Reich, Twixt Semites and swastikas: Temlett Conibeer's greatest challenge)

Click on the links below:

Book review 1

Book review 2

Book review 3

Twixt Semites and swastikas…

Frogmouth Press

187 Low Head Road,

Low Head Tas 7253

$30.00  Posted $35.00

Email: frogmouth07@live.com.au

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Jan J. Saave

March 27, 2010 at 5:08 am (expatriates, malaria control, Papua New Guinea, PNG, PNG Health) (, , , , , , , , )

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

Dave Wall catches up with his former boss

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.

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John Filby & Dave Wall, Malaria Control Patrol, Manam Island, Early Seventies

July 13, 2009 at 5:44 am (expatriates, malaria control, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

John Filby & Dave Wall, Malaria Control Patrol, Manam Island, Early Seventies

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Ralf Stuttgen’s Views and Perceptions

July 12, 2009 at 3:47 am (Catholic Church, malaria control, Papua New Guinea, philosophy, theology) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

new shots 035

 

On my recent visit to Papua New Guinea I had some far-reaching discussions with my friend, Ralf Stuttgen. Ralf has many interesting and discerning points of view which are worth airing in the hope that they can be commented on and further discussed by others.

 Our conversations ranged over theological, philosophical, educational and environmental questions and were tackled uniquely and insightfully by Ralf.

 Here are his views:

 Who and what is God? Any definition of God cannot be divorced from our material existence and humanity’s system of values. Fundamentally God is love and with this concept in mind no one with values is essentially an atheistic according to Ralf. By a stretch of the imagination most, I guess, could accept a principal power and reality in the universe named God or something else. Theological definitions must continually be refined and explained in modern terms. Objective truth is not just a question of what is right and what is wrong.

Symbol and myth reveal and divulge theological and ethical truths. Virginity is a symbol of divine wisdom and life is like the rising dawn. There is no doubt in Ralf’s mind that the essence of the Christian message is fundamentally sound, but the interpretation of the message needs to be refined and updated.

 Ralf looks at sin and an appropriate definition; Sin is any act where the damage is greater than the advantages. I suppose in a sense the end justifies the means. All acts have good and bad potentials. Untruths and lies are always involved with sin and the suppression of information. An ill-informed conscience cannot be an arbitrator of good and evil.

 Science fiction can be a useful tool for awakening future generations to development possibilities for in this genre humankind looks at the desirable and the possible.

 On the broad question of the economy, education and development Ralf continually stresses the primary importance of quality education. Any country without an educated population is doomed to a state of undevelopment. Even a state without abundant natural resources but with an educated population has the capacity for significant economic development, look at the South Korean economic miracle and compare this with Papua New Guinea, a country with vast natural resources and a seemingly inability to lift the standard of living for its population. Over the past thirty years or so South Korea has put in place a vibrant education and training programme throughout the country, whereas in PNG the state of education at all levels: primary, secondary, tertiary and technical training is at best poor and only available to a small percent of the population. The result being that South Korea exports the products of a technically advanced economy with vast returns to its educated and well governed population, whereas PNG is increasingly becoming a land that is largely being exploited for its resources by others. The country is plagued with inappropriate and destructive resource exploitation with little return to its people in general. One need only look at the logging and mining industries and the environmental hazards they are creating. Corrupt officials and politicians and overseas companies get their rewards but the uneducated masses get comparatively nothing. One example of poor governance and supervision in PNG is that 60% of the gold extracted from the country is exported illegally. This means that the state gets nothing for this valuable resource.

 Ralf is emphatic in his assertion that education is the solution to all the world’s problems.

Doing it right – Success   Doing it wrong – No Success

Education will improve public health. The most common cause of death is stupidity.

Education will protect the environment, stupidity leads to the killing of wildlife and even over-population. Governments must improve their education systems before they improve their health services. In British India the health services were better than the education services; result over-population.

 Education, Research and the Future

 Our biological, genetic and evolutionary future is tied up with education and new ideas.Let us look at some problems with new insights: Is Western Agriculture appropriate in undeveloped countries? Not always as it requires deforestation; more research is needed into methods of growing food. Humankind should be able to live off trees. The whole world could be covered with trees. Trees are a great source of starch and more research is needed to fully utilize them as food. Sensible conservation will protect the jungles of the world. In the past in PNG when the kunai grasslands were protected from burning it was noticed that the jungle trees come back. It is true to say our scientists need a broader education. 

General reflections

 Who does the Development Bank develop? Answer: The Development Bank. Only take out a loan when land and labour are there with future prospects to guarantee success. Look at the bind the West New Britain oil palm small holders are in trying to repay the Development Bank.

Indigenous people at least should be guaranteed health, fresh air and natural conditions.The reality is that indigenous people must adapt or vanish.The laws of evolution are there. In North America some indigenous people were known as little heads because of their small brain size. Presumably the evolutionary process had past them by. We must face the fact that some genes become outdated Will we in the future condone and allow some form of genetic engineering?

What was the principal cause of the fall of the Roman Empire? The Roman State did not have a Department of Education as an institution preserving and passing on knowledge to future generations.

Global warming has been going on for years, markedly since AD 400. Development and education are historically intertwined with changes of climate.

We must all learn to manage our health. Sleep is the most important anti-malarial. In the future humankind must learn to eat different foods.

The attempt to commercialize the production of sago in the Sepik will be a disaster. The keeping of cattle and wet rice growing are inappropriate as agricultural ventures in PNG as tasks associated with these endeavours are foreign to the people.

Managing rubbish is a problem for PNG towns and cities.

What is a Jew? Ralf looks at this broadly: There are ethnic Jews and theological Jews. Ethic Jews are those with a racial connection to Israel and theological Jews are all people of good will. This is in accord with God’s promise to Abraham:

Your descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in heaven. Your descendants will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

The ideas of a better world are not exclusively Jewish but also come from other ancient people such as the Persians and Egyptians. The big question was and is just how to achieve a better world? The answer will come from the chosen people who are all people of good will.

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Dr A.D. Parkinson

May 2, 2009 at 1:37 am (malaria control, Papua New Guinea) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

my-house-at-dreikikir-frank-schofield-visitanti-yaws-1956-medical-patrol-highlandsat-jackson-field-early-1970schambri-august-1957a-native-of-hagen-and-self-aug-19561in-my-donga-minj-1956koza-kisipe-kora-kina-oct-1956madang-lutheran-hospital-1973maprik-hospital-staff-1968-69pngvr-oficers-1973-igam-barracks

Photos  from David Parkinson’s Collection

Arthur David Parkinson 1935-2009

Always known as David rather than Arthur, his untimely death ends a life of service and dedication. He first came to Papua New Guinea in 1956 as a Medical Assistant or in the terminology of the time an EMA – European Medical Assistant. These young men and some not so young were the frontline medical providers in much of PNG in those days.
   David did extensive medical patrols in the Sepik and the Highlands. He subsequently attended the University of Adelaide qualifying in Medicine and Surgery, and he returned to PNG working as a Medical Officer and eventually Assistant Director, Malaria Control.
   After leaving PNG in the late 1970s, he did post-graduate studies in the UK and afterwards worked for WHO in the Solomon Islands and Samoa. In Australia, he joined the army and worked in a Malaria Research Unit with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. For the last years of his life, he was in general practice in the Western Suburbs of Sydney.
   At his funeral service, Michael, his son, spoke of his father’s humanity in a varied career of service to others. Over the years, David’s contribution to the health of others has been immense. The people of PNG have particularly lost a true friend and benefactor.
   David’s first wife, Ruth, predeceased him and he is survived by their children, Michael, Fiona and Jamie. His wife, Vaiola and their children, Nathan, Ricky, Tanya, Corian and two grandchildren, Charley and Georgie survive him.

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Free online copy of Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk!

December 28, 2008 at 11:21 pm (Angoram, artifacts, expatriates, Fiction, malaria control, Papua New Guinea) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

A critique that is a fair measure of the book.

Just send me your email address in ‘comment’ and I’ll send you an online copy. The link to the online copy:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/10049376/Sepik-Blu-Longpela-Muruk

For $2 you can get the book from Amazon Kindle Direct:http://www.amazon.com/kindle/dp/B00BJKTFEM/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_eos_detail

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Fight Against Malaria

March 28, 2008 at 11:31 pm (Commentary, malaria control, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Sepik River) ()

Blood survey in the Pora Pora - Copy

This photo was taken by Deborah, my wife, in 1973 while we were on patrol in the Pora Pora, a census division in the Angoram Sub-district. It shows John Pandum and me taking a blood sample in one of the half-yearly visits to the area, carrying out anti-malaria activities. The people of Pora Pora were prone to a lot of sickness: malaria, pneumonia, tropical ulcers, TB, influenza and many other minor complaints.

It was just amazing what could be done with penicillin, chloroquine and a few other simple remedies.

John was a squad leader in my malaria team. On a recent visit to Angoram I heard that he is not too well. He retired to his village in the Murik Lakes some years ago.

This picture conjured up in my mind many of the splendid activities carried out by officers in the colonial period. By and large we didn’t think we were anything special. Many young white officers were red-blooded, and got pissed, and whisked off the occasional local woman, but all substantially did their job.

Certainly not necessarily in the above category; but my mind turns to the many fine officers I knew in the various government departments: Francis Xavier Ryan, Dave Willis, Don Pybus, Alan Pretty, Luke Blansjaar, Mike Goodson, and many other agricultural officers. These men did extensive field work visiting villages and advising on the planting of coffee, rubber, eucalyptus and teak trees, rice and other crops and vegetables, and the care of livestock. The point being made here is that they did actually visit the villages, and had direct contact with the rural people.

Many fine kiaps come to mind: Dan Claasen, Jock McIntyre, Bob Bunting, Dave Bretherton, Mark O’Regan, Wayne Cross, and many others. They visited the villages and adjudicated disputes.

The Health Department had a score of dedicated personnel: Doctors like David Parkinson & Jan Saave, Medical Assistants like Frank Gilbert, Des Hill and a legion of other names come to mind, of those of whom delivered services directly to the people. Of field officers in the Malaria Service we think of the likes of: Andy Marke, Jim van der Kamp, Bob Allen, Jock Murray, Norm Coyle and countless others. Officers who not only visited main villages, but garden houses, and structures outside the villages.

Some of the criticism we hear of colonial governments does at times rather amuse me. Of course we all know what a splendid job Robert Gabriel Mugabe has done in Zimbabwe!! I hear you say: “What are you talking about?” But everyone in Zimbabwe is a millionaire. I don’t think a million Zimbabwean dollars will buy you a loaf of bread, but still the country is full of millionaires.

Most ordinary Africans were much better off under British rule in the then Southern Rhodesia than they are today. Even in PNG Sir Michael Somare is supposed to have said after twenty years of independence that: Papua New Guineans are worse off now than they were at the time of our independence. The  nation is in ruins right now.” Some would say that he has not helped much!

The fight against malaria in PNG is now from what I can see mainly conducted by NGOs. Bed nets impregnated with insecticide are supplied by overseas agencies and it was pleasing to note that  “the Australian government, through AusAID, has committed K25 million towards the fight against malaria in PNG over the next three years, starting in 2008.” So we can only hope for the future.

The massive anti-malaria programme started by the colonial administration in 1958 was stopped in PNG some years after independence. The disastrous results of this are obvious to see. In a place like Wewak cerebral malaria is a constant menace around the town,and surrounding areas. Let’s hope that the PNG Government will get their act together and do something positive against the scourge of malaria.

This is not the novissima verba on this important subject.

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