Friday, 28 July 2017


I am writing as an old family friend of the Niblett family to express dismay at the lack of professionalism in the senior ranks of the Department of Health in support of the personal dignity of the late Dr Niblett and his wife.

Dr John Niblett was 78 years old and his wife was 73 years old. He worked in Papua New Guinea as an oncologist the only one in the Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. He was a compassionate man who saw that PNG citizens  were dying needlessly from cancer.

He was offered a salary package that was not his idea but put together by the Department of Health. He tried to involve another overseas doctor to take his place as he wanted the cancer work to be in order before he left. 

The new doctor left after 12 months due to dissatisfaction with the salary package, leave entitlements and the general disregard for cancer treatment in the Department of Health. The cancer machine kept breaking down which condemned dozens of cancer patients to death.

I knew of the compassion of Dr Niblett who was often in despair at breakdown of the cancer machine and the inability to help citizens dying of cancer.

Dr Niblett tried to have national doctors trained overseas but faced a brick wall from the senior levels of the Department. The Secretary of Health and Minister did not help to solve the issue. 

There seemed to be racism and stigma against Dr Niblett who was an old man crippled with polio and needed his own treatment. 

After his appointment was terminated, his rental accommodation was stopped at the Lae International and his personal effects locked away until rent was paid. He has been supported by the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and Governor General Sir Bob Dadae.

His exercise machine was behind closed doors at the Lae International Hotel and he could not exercise his legs and chest muscles. He could not breathe without his daily exercise on his machine. The machine would be released with other personal effects when the rental was paid.

His health dropped and he died in distress and despair. He deserved more than that. John Niblett died just over a month ago leaving his wife to find accommodation and without an income contrary to the Court order. He probably died considering himself to be a failure.

His wife Andrea was alone with a grown up family overseas. She has had her tires slashed on her car and received abusive calls on her phone.

She has to take Court action for the final entitlements that should not have been necessary. The final payment should have been immediately and professionally forthcoming.

The Department of Health is showing that overseas doctors have to be wary of working in Papua New Guinea. There is a banana republic attitude in the Department of Health.

Andrea is afraid of being treated with contempt as a widow. In this country widows regularly find that their husband's entitlements never come. 

She is afraid to leave the country as she may not be allowed to return. She has to spend money to live and may have to stay for several months before the case comes to Court.

As an Australian citizen Andrea Niblett has not been given any support by the Australian High Commission.

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