Marcos Posiona – From BRA combatant to anaesthetist
By Leonard Fong Roka
A former Bougainville Revoultionary Army (BRA) fighter is now saving lives in Bougainville and Madang as an anaesthetist and Officer In-Charge of Surgery.
It was a weekend in mid-1995 when Marcos Posiona and a band of Tumpusiong BRA men set up an ambush in the neighbouring Bana District of South Bougainville.
A patrol of pro-PNG resistance fighters—most of them relatives or well known to the Tumpusiong people—walked into the trap and were attacked; the young Posiona ran over the wounded enemies and later walked home.
With the weekend now over, Posiona returned to his studies in a classroom at what is now Arawa Primary School. During that week his aunty, a nurse at the PNG soldier’s field hospital, told him about the wounded men. Despite his involvement in the attack, Posiona went and visited them with food, though they did not recognise Posiona as one of their attackers.
During the peak of the crisis Posiona was exposed to his aunt’s nursing services to wounded and sick in the BRA areas; he often assisted and learned much from the experience.
He graduated in 2004 from Bishop Wade Secondary School, but did not get a place in any tertiary institution. Instead he returned home, worked hard in his cocoa plot and earned enough to apply for the Lutheran Nursing College in Madang.
From 2006 to 2008 he worked hard at his studies, both theoretical and practical, and graduated with the prestigious Divine Word University Clinical Award.
In 2008, unsuccessful with a job application back in Bougainville, Posiona applied at Gaubin Hospital, operated by the Lutheran Church on Karkar Island in Madang Province.
He was accepted and landed on Karkar Island in September 2009 where he served as a General Nursing Officer In-Charge in the Medical Ward until April 2010.
At Gaubin Hospital there were two German surgeons, Dr. Christof Ihle and Dr. Tanya Ihle, who were amazed with this multi-skilled Bougainvillean and Gaubin Hospital soon promoted Posiona to a Nursing Officer In-Charge of the Operating Theatre.
The surgeon couple trained the inquisitive Bougainvillean in anaesthetics, exposed him to surgery on patients, taught him x-ray viewing, gave orthopaedic lessons and even taught him to execute minor operations.
This special exposure led to Posiona become one of the only five medical officers having a Bisectomy Operator License in Madang Province and in 2012, recognising his willingness to learn and work hard in his medical responsibilities, the Lutheran Medical Body sponsored him for further studies at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG).
At UPNG he studied Anaesthetic Sciences with near-graduating doctors that had studied there for almost seven years. During this process he was registered in 2013 as an Anaesthetic Scientific Officer and now serves on Karkar Island as the senior Anaesthetic Scientific Officer authorising analysing and preparing patients for surgery and reviving them after operations.
His funded study-work contract with Gaubin Hospital and UPNG has two more years to go.
“I do not have a future here,” Mr Posiona admitted, “fellow surgeons and medical officers in Buka Hospital and Arawa Health Centre are calling me to go and help in Bougainville.”
“I need to go after what I owe the Lutheran Church is over, but if the Bougainville government can reimburse the Lutheran Church funding I am happy to serve my people of Bougainville.”
During his three months holiday from February 2014, he was busy in the surgical ward of the Arawa Health Centre with assisting the team of chief surgeon Dr. Joseph Vilosi and at the Buka Hospital surgical room, helping senior surgeon Dr. Damien Asola with his professional anaesthetic services.
Bougainville could have Marcos Posiona back on the island sooner rather than later as he and other medical officers on Gaubin Hospital are at a stand-off with its administration over corruption and lack of improvement of the medical services on Karkar Island.
“We have a case filed with the Lutheran Health Body and the National Health Department and if the Gaubin Hospital does not respond positively I would be home to work with the Health Department of Bougainville,” Mr Posiona said.