Unusual growths appearing on women's backs
Above: burnt out sores that start from a small scratch
Ive received a disturbing press release tonight from Ok Tedi, where it seems women are suffering from mysterious bleeding, supperating sores, and oversized growths. This is ot new, and my company and myself were on the river in 2005 for a Mineral Policy Institute report that accumulated disturbing medical case histories on the lower Fly, most of which in Daru. Hydrocephalic babies, skin sores, neurological disrders that all seemed to stem from the toxic tailings BHP released into their river from as early as 1984 withut a tailings dam. Every Mine Continuation Agreement assumes a contractual relationship between the people effected by these poisons and OTML that includes monies for development from the BHP compensation fund at PNGSDP. The very assumption that there can be INFORMED CONSENT on the part of the Western Province people regarding ACID ROCK DRAINAGE and toxicity levels or 'drinkability' standards (which was the compromise standard BHP began to use on its reports when toxicity went through the roof) is absurd.
Anyone who thinks these sorts of medical problems are unrelated to the ecology of these peoples' lives are living under a rock.
Compounding these problems are the stigmas associated with women's bodily substances and BLOOD---insofar as it is considered inimical to masculinity. AS A CANCER SURVIVOR myself, having suffered MYSTERIOUS BLEEDING for months before getting a prper diagnosis---I am more than aware that these are signs of serious problems with the entire female population of the Fly River. Whether they present themselves in 2012 or 2025, they will not go away if we ignore them.
These women are the wombs that give us the future Western Province popualtion. They are in the front lines of disease because toxic water seeps into female genitalia more readily than male, because women continue to fish in the Fly, and women have distressed immune systems during menstruation once a month. At times when these young women---the vessels of our future---most need help and nutrition, they are all the more vulnerable to the poisons of their environment, from the river itself to the table water and the garden produce they continue to harvest.
The images and the press relase from a concerned landowner are posted below, and further down you can read a copy of the PNGDF field workers' reports to OMTL about this emergent crisis.
From the field:
WOMEN are dying from abnormal bleeding along the banks of the South Fly river system and nothing is being done about it by the Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF).
The OTDF is the organisation responsible for the implementation and delivery of impact projects along the Fly River and the mine villages in the Western Province.
This claim stems from a general health investigation report for the Suki Fly Gogo and Manawate regions from April 24 to May 4 this year. The report was done by Michael Gen (field supervisor for capacity building project) and James Yore (monitoring and evaluation officer for OTDF).
The report was presented to the then team leader for community development and acting capacity project program manager for the women’s and children program, Bill Rua, after a request from the Suki Fly Gogo and Manavete women’s Association executive members Saridu Saudi , Nanacy Isikin, Nareme Makai and Lynette Ogari.
Mr Rua then presented the report to OTDF chief executive officer Ian Middleton and executive manager Alison Tammy. Since then both have allegedly not acted upon the report.
Mrs Makai, the women’s and children’s representative in the Manawate Trust yesterday confirmed that numerous women and children have died since this report was given four months ago.
“We have been patiently waiting for OTDF to act upon the report and bring the medical assessment team to conform the reports. Now we are forced to seek Government support, but due to lack of proper medical services in the region we are being sent to Kiunga,” she added.
The process to get to Kiunga is too costly and OTDF do not supporting in funding for logistic support as well. What can we do now? She asked.
The request for immediate attention to their medical needs comes off the back of daily occurrences reports of abnormal bleeding from young women, plus abnormal growths or lumps on babies, children, young women and men.
This includes what is being described as ‘burnt out looking sores’ or ulcers that are prevalent amongst users of the river. The ulcers usually start from a scratch.
This is also a normal occurrence for water users of the Fly River which flows from the Ok Tedi Mine down to the mouth of the river. This report covers 18 villages in Suki and 17 villages in the Manawate region.
The total population of the Continuation Mine Community Agreement (CMCA) region is in the region of 70,000.
The methods used in the investigation were focused group discussion with long hours of approximately 4-5 hours questioning of all aspect of diseases from personal hygiene, family planning, general health service, diet, safe water and other related diseases. The three villages visited from Manewete region were Teapopo, Wariobodoro and Kea while six villages (Pukaduka 1, Kautru, Kiru, Riti, Pukaduka2, and Eniawa) from Suki were visited for this assessment.
The findings shows that health services throughout these regions have been deteriorating for so long and all key health indicators have fallen behind the national average. According to this investigation, many people have died from curable diseases, health facilities are at an appalling state, inconsistency of drugs supply, staff absenteeism, women die of loss of blood from abnormal bleeding and half the children under the age of 1 receive their immunization vaccines.
The Health Report
Date: 12/06/2012 TO: Bill Rua Capacity Building Program Manager From: Michael Gen and James Yore Field Supervisor-CBP & Monitoring & Evaluation REF: General Health Assessments Report for Suki Fly Gogo and Manawete Regions (24th April – 4th May 2012: Find attached comprehensive report compiled by Michael Gen & James Yore for your immediate attention. The report was compiled in accordance to the request made by Women Leaders from Suki Fly Gogo & Manawete Regions of a complain of women bleeding abnormalities and other related deceases which were a major concern in the communities. While at the site, other diseases were detected and also reported simultaneously for further actions. Upon their request, we were sent down to the region to do a preliminary investigation and succinctly compiled the report. The selective villages visited were only Manawete and Suki Fly Gogo but assume similar cases are in other regions. The report seems appalling in nature and needed coordinated approach by all stake holders in curbing out the health issues highlighted in the report. A short term intervention is more critical and recommendations made in the report must be implemented accordingly. …………………………………. …………………………………….. Michael Gen James Yore Field Supervisor Capacity Building Project Monitoring & Evaluation OK Tedi Fly River Development Program General Health Assessment Report for Manewete and Suki Fly Gogo of South Fly Region (25th April - 3rd May 2012) Introduction An urgent concerned was raised by Manewete and Suki Fly Gogo Region Women Leaders and community development assistants (CDA) that there were abnormal menstruation bleeding from young women and girls and other waterborne diseases that are on rife in these two regions and needed preliminary investigation. In recognition of the women leaders concerns, Michael Gen and I (James Yore) were sent to the site to do a preliminary assessment and report to the management for further investigations and quick technical interventions if the reports warrant such help. Therefore, the assessment was carried out from 25th, April-3rd May, 2012. The methods used in the investigation were focused group discussion with long hours of approximately 4-5 hrs questioning of all aspect of diseases from personal hygiene, family planning, general health service, diet, safe water and other related diseases. The three villages visited from Manewete region were Teapopo, Wariobodoro and Kea while six villages (Pukaduka 1, Kautru, Kiru, Riti, Pukaduka2, and Eniawa) from Suki were visited for this assessment. The findings shows that health services throughout these regions have been deteriorating for so long and all key health indicators have fallen behind the national average. According to this investigation, many people have died from curable diseases, health facilities are at an appalling state, inconsistency of drugs supply, staff absenteeism, women die of loss of blood from abnormal bleeding and half the children under the age of 1 receive their immunization vaccines. This is compounded by the fast growing population and negligence of stakeholders’ medical interventions for the basic fundamental need for these people. Addressing these issues will require both short term relatively non technical interventions and longer term measures to ensure a systematic and concerted response that covers treatment, control, prevention and surveillance. These will require major stakeholders’ capability in addressing these issues through partnership and coordination. While carrying out these investigations, many other issues were raised and will also be highlighted in the discussions Methods The simple and reliable method used in this investigation is focused group discussions and personal interviews. The old and young women and girls who had complain of abnormal bleeding and chronic abdominal pains were called up for interviews questioning of their severity, starting time, family planning, diet and environment. This is to gauge the view of the likely cause of the bleeding abnormalities and chronic abdomen pains for females. While on that particular mission, men were interviewed simultaneously for possible cause of diseases mainly, growth, ulcers, sores, and other suspected waterborne diseases. It took three days and 4-5 hours in every visited villages discussing openly on their health issues and providing them opportunity to express their concerns in relations to their health status and other common concerns within their community. As observed, this was the great opportunity for them as we have never approached this before and we could see their sentiments expressed. At the end of the focused group discussions people were given opportunity to raise any other burning issues that can be captured and refer to appropriate authorities for actions. Findings Day 1: 29 May 2012: Teapopo and Wariobodoro Village, Manewete Region Time started: 8:00 am and ended 7:45pm After long hours of interviews and group discussions, we noticed that young women and girls were severely affected by menstruation abnormal bleeding, chronic abdominal pains and other related sicknesses while men had growth, ulcer and other diseases. Table 1.1 showing different age group with common complains for both males and females Age Group Gender Abnormal bleeding Abdomen Pains Lumps/ Growth Others (sores/ulcer) Total (by Row) 0-10 FM 1 5 10 16 0-10 M 3 7 10 10-20 FM 6 4 8 12 30 10-20 M 9 10 19 20-30 FM 12 10 7 13 42 20- 30 Male 5 10 15 30-40 FM 13 12 12 15 52 30-40 M 14 17 31 40-50 FM 4 7 8 11 30 40-50 M 7 5 8 20 Total (by Column) 35 41 76 113 265 Day 2: 30th April 2012: Pukaduka 1- Suki Fly Gogo Region Time started: 2:45pm. Time ended: 6:50pm We were warmly welcome to the community and started our interviews and discussions till late. The common complaints received from both males and females were; females abnormal menstruation bleeding and chronic abdominal pains, growth/lumps and other diseases. Table 1.2 showing common complaints from Pukaduka 1 in different age groups for both males and females Age Group Gender Abnormal bleeding Abdomen Pains Lumps/ Growth Others (sores/ulcer) Total (by Row) 0-10 FM 5 15 20 0-10 M 4 13 17 10-20 FM 6 11 6 14 37 10-20 M 8 11 19 20-30 FM 9 13 6 16 44 20- 30 Male 12 13 25 30-40 FM 12 8 6 11 37 30-40 M 13 10 23 40-50 FM 2 10 6 8 26 40-50 M 3 5 7 15 Total (by Column) 29 45 71 118 263 Day3: 31st April 2012: Kautru, Eniawa and Riti villages, Suki Fly Gogo The three villages were visited at the same day and their complaints seem to be synonymous with each other. Table below showing different ages groups with their major complains for both male and females from these three villages Age Group Gender Abnormal bleeding Abdomen Pains Lumps/ Growth Others (sores/ulcer) Total (by Row) 0-10 FM 3 20 23 0-10 M 6 26 32 10-20 FM 8 15 10 29 62 10-20 M 8 11 19 20-30 FM 15 23 12 16 66 20- 30 Male 10 14 24 30-40 FM 21 27 16 17 81 30-40 M 14 28 42 40-50 FM 1 14 7 9 31 40-50 M 3 6 09 Total (by Column) 45 79 89 176 389 Day 4: 1st May 2012: Kiru, Pukaduka 2 villages, Suki Fly Gogo Region We did the same method of focused group discussion and had the following complains synonymously across the villages. The complains ranges from abnormal menstruation bleeding and chronic abdominal pains for women and young girls, growth /lumps for both male and females, ulcers and generally other waterborne diseases. Age Group Gender Abnormal bleeding Abdomen Pains Lumps/ Growth Others (sores/ulcer) Total (by Row) 0-10 FM 5 20 25 0-10 M 13 25 38 10-20 FM 8 18 17 28 71 10-20 M 8 19 27 20-30 FM 19 29 24 30 102 20- 30 Male 15 17 32 30-40 FM 18 23 10 23 74 30-40 M 14 28 42 40-50 FM 1 15 9 16 41 40-50 M 5 9 14 Total (by Column) 46 85 120 215 466 Other Issues/Concerns raised during the patrol Manewete Women Resource Learning Centre (Arato Village) The land owners of Arato village demanded that a one of land compensation payment of K300, 000.00 or land tenure lease agreement for the use of the building on their land to be effective soon. They reckon they should be adequately compensated for the use of the land as many women will benefit out the centre through capacity building programs. We responded that we will do a preliminary investigation to ascertain the facts leading to the signing of land agreements with PNGSTDP because the building was funded by them. The people were informed that this would take some time and may not be intimidated and frustrated if the investigations prolongs. Fight between Damera and Urio & Kenidibi, Manewete Region A fight broke out between Damera and Urio & Kenidibi which resulted in burning of Damera’s houses and total of four deaths. This is attributed to prolong land disputes and a murder of a community school student from Urio by Damera. Then the Urio combined with Kenedibi, retaliated and ransacked the Damera village and burn down homes, properties, destroying food gardens and chasing people. Currently the village is deserted and the people are living with their relatives in nearby villages but having huge burden for other families in regards to food, accommodation and labor. Addressing this issue will require concerted response by all stake holders in consultation and peace making process. This is an urgent matter and needed to be resolved sooner to pave the way for any development intervention Community Development Officers (CDOs). Nearly all the villages visited had the same complain raised in the discussions that CDOs are not literally coming to the villages and performing their key programs. Ken Kese from Arato village even stated that; they are ‘dinghy riders and laptop and camera officers’. Such comments are not healthy for a development organization and need to rethink and re-strategies our programs with spending more time in the villages engaging with meaningful activities than merely visitations. Recommendations. The investigations warrants that the health status of the villages visited are quiet appalling and sympathetic and require both short and long term intervention in addressing these issues and that: A Professional Medical team to be deployed to the affected region to ascertain the cause of the diseases with the supply of drugs for short term intervention that covers treatment, control and prevention Water filtration straw to be purchased for each household for the villages who are affected by waterborne diseases while waiting for water supply catchment project to be completed in some years’ time A long term intervention of Capacity building for Nursing and CHW staff manning aid post and health centers and upgrading and construction of general health facilities that pragmatically addresses the issues An engagement of service providers to provide health, hygiene and sanitation training programs to the regions as many people do not have pit toilets and other hygiene and sanitation problems OTFRDP staff to be more involved in community engagement programs than merely doing visitations and patrols Conclusion Health issues around Manewete and Suki Fly Gogo is a major concern and needed a holistic approach in dealing with these issues proactively. As a result of deteriorating health services, many people had died from preventable diseases while others are suffering in agony for dramatic medical interventions in terms of treatment, control and preventions. The situations warrants urgent redress and the recommendations made should be critically considered as the community health status is at risk. Healthy living is a fundamental human need and needed all stakeholders’ capabilities in addressing these triggering issues. Photo Attachment Manewete Region Suki Fly Gogo Region Kea Village – 29 April 2012 Young women from Kea village sheltered in Makeshift for abnormal menstruation bleeding for three weeks Young women experiencing menstruation abnormal bleeding for two weeks Pukaduka 1 Village – 31/04/12 Women openly discuss their sickness with Mr. Yore Growth on breast is very painful and this women have been suffering for two years Wariobodoro Village 29 April 2012 Growth or lump is common in Manewete region for both females and males Rescued this woman while on patrol. Bleeding for 1 week and had to be taken to Tapila Health Centre Starts from scratching to ulcer after washing from Fly River Ulcer is common and needed urgent medical intervention Teapopo village Many of these are from scratch to ulcer and is quiet scary and needed urgent medical attention Growth or lump is becoming fast growing diseases in Suki Fly Gogo and Manewete Region