Work in progress for PNG’s medical school – fast-tracked after protest

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The male dormitory under renovation in UPNG's School of Medicine and Health Science
The male dormitory under renovation in UPNG's School of Medicine and Health Science in Port Moresby. Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Grace Salmang in Port Moresby

Reconstruction and renovation work for dormitories, laboratories, mess and tutorial rooms is currently underway at the University of Papua New Guinea’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

This is following a sit-in protest a week ago by students led by Student’s Representative Council (SRC) representative Elizah Sap demanding the university’s vice-chancellor and medical schoool dean give them answers about their legacy issues.

During a visit to the school on Thursday, Sap gave an update on the status of renovation work.

He said there were short and long-term plans outlined in the petition.

“Short term plans include students to use the mess and eat a decent meal, have access to electricity and see renovation taking place to many of the buildings that are at a
deteriorating state,” he said.

“Long term plans include scoping in terms having wi-fi access to all dormitories, staff houses and others.

“We have been neglected for so long and therefore, we have decided to arrange for a sit-in-protest and we want to thank the UPNG vice-chancellor Professor Frank Griffin for the immediate response after receiving our petition.

Broken doors, windows …
“There are broken doors, windows, no furniture in most of the rooms and there are always electrical faults experienced.

“The mess [dining room] has been closed for almost four years due to the unsanitary practices relating to mass hygiene, until four days ago. It was reopened after a new food warmer was installed with proper power supply and equipment,” Sap said.

The school’s mess needs to be renovated.

Sap said that for the last four years, students’ meals were prepared at the UPNG Waigani campus and delivered to the school. However, many times the food was cold and not fresh to eat when it was delivered and some students fell ill from food poisoning.

“We have also been facing continuous blackouts due to PNG Power’s fluctuation and there is no standby genset as it is no longer working.

“We have received confirmation that by next week Tuesday, two new gensets will be delivered,” he said.

Sit-in protest
Sap said the sit in protest was the reason why work had commenced and the students acknowledged vice-chancellor Griffin for the immediate intervention.

The school has 712 registered students from different study disciplines.

The school was established during the 1960s and was previously known as the Papua Medical College.

Since then, most of the facilities in the school had not been renovated or replaced.

Sap said that the only renovation done to some of the dormitories was between 2021 and 2022.

Grace Salmang is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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