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PNG: Post-Courier mourns loss of reporter

PNG: Post-Courier mourns loss of reporter Robyn Sela

* Post a comment at PMW's Right of Reply:

Post-Courier editorial, 19-21 December 2003 CANCER: NOTHING ON OFFER FOR IT HERE

PORT MORESBY (Post-Courier Online/Pacific Media Watch): This newspaper is now mourning the death of one of its most outstanding young reporters ‹ Robyn Sela.

Robyn died on Wednesday [17 December 2003] night after suffering from an oral cancer that she had been fighting against for all of this year.

It was a great tragedy that such a young and energetic person should endure so much pain and agony for an entire year watched helplessly by her family and friends. For nearly all of the time that she was suffering from a disease that virtually destroyed her flesh, Robyn received no medication at all, except for pain killers.

The doctors both here and at the Wesley Hospital in Australia did all they could to save her but to no avail. The cancer had won the battle.

Saving the lives of cancer patients is a real challenge for our health system. For a start we hardly have any cancer specialists. Then we do not have the proper equipment to manage these patients.

The only cancer unit at the Angau Memorial Hospital is defunct and efforts to purchase new equipment for the unit are still being made. When the equipment arrives will depend on whether there is enough money available.

Morobe Governor Luther Wenge has taken the initiative to make some funds available as a contribution from the Morobe Provincial Government.

It is a unit that serves the entire country, not just Morobe. But so far little help has come from other provinces. There is an increasing number of Papua New Guineans dying of all forms of cancer and yet providing treatment for them does not seem to be a high priority. All this comes down to the issue of cost and benefit.

The limited funds available to the health services goes to diseases that affect the highest number of people. Cancer affects many people but the numbers are not as high as those suffering from malaria, TB or pneumonia. We have a long way to go before we can afford specialist treatment for cancer sufferers.

* Robyn Sela, 30, was an outstanding police and defence reporter for the Post-Courier. The daughter of former Post-Courier editor Luke Sela, she was a journalism graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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