Everyday People PNG : Michelle Lem

Michelle Lem is a mother of three from Gulf Province, she has been working faithfully as a Community Treatment Supporter (CTS) for almost six years in the Moresby South electorate.

She provides close support and check-ins with TB patients on a daily or weekly basis, under the Community-based TB treatment program in NCD.

Her role is to support Tuberculosis (TB) patients in the community who had been diagnosed with TB, get their proper medication in a timely manner so they can overcome the disease. Currently, she is assisting eight TB patients under her care.

Michelle says being s CTS is an important role in the community, because it is the eyes and ears of doctors and nurses back at the clinics and hospitals.  

“The health workers are inside the clinics but we are in the community identifying those people who are sick and sending them in to the clinic to get the treatment they need,” Michelle says.

Though it has not been easy she continues to strive because of the satisfaction she gets at the end when the person is healed.

“It’s a good feeling when you see someone struggles under your care for six months or nine months, or even for two to three years and gets healed. You feel the joy within you. You feel blessed, yeah!” Michelle exclaimed.

“On the other hand if you don’t succeed and the patient dies, then it is also heart touching. You will feel very sad.”

Michelle said she has many success stories of those who had been cured after taking their treatment faithfully, who would come back to thank her and break down and cry.

“We also cry with them, even the clinicians and doctors. We face a lot of hardships like getting chased by dogs and sometimes they bite us. We would run with our eskies or bags, with our shoes or sometimes we take off our shoe and hit the dog with it.

“We are scorched, washed in the rain, but we persevere for the love of seeing someone get healed. We even get angry reactions from the community. They would discriminate us, swear at us, call us names but we still stick our heads in this because this job helps many people.”

Michelle added that patients need to eat before they take their medicine.  Many of them don’t have food to eat nor money to buy food, so a volunteer like herself has to get it out of her own pocket to buy a scone or bread for the patient.    

“Most times they don’t have bus fares to go to the clinic so we pay it for them and take them to clinics or give them money to go back for their X-ray or review.

“Many of my patients have been healed and got discharged from the hospital and from the medication. My rounds include, Vadavada, Mahuru and Tanokou and some going towards East Boroko way.”

Frieda Kana