My intention in posting about this problem regarding the practice of penis injection as it has been uncovered amongst male students at Sacred Heart and Mainohana, and amongst male students attending primary schools in the Tapini area is not to put out ‘bad publicity’.
Nor is what I have reported to be misconstrued in any way as being a problem specifically concerning the male students attending Tapini schools.
This problem first came to our attention last year, and then again this year when the school authorities at Sacred Heart noticed health problems with a number of male students following sports and physical exertion (i.e., fevour, fatigue, tiredness). Medical examination at the Health Centre revealed that these students had undergone penis injection. This alerted the school administration to potentially serious problem. Subsequent medical examinations conducted by health workers on all the males students at Sacred Heart (last year and this year) uncovered the extent of this condition amongst male students.
At Sacred Heart we have students enrolled from all areas of the diocese – mountains and coast – providing a sample pool giving some indication as to the extent of this problem in the diocese, as this practice of penis injection comes out of their village, and is usually done to school boys when they are home on holidays. The data indicated that students with this condition came from nearly all the village areas in the diocese, with certain areas (Aiwarra, Ivane, Pilitu, Guari, and Mekeo) being hotspots.
Prior to this first coming to our attention last year, the school had not seen this problem of penis injection. A medical examination of the students is routinely done at the school each year. This gives some clear indication as to when this new trend of penis injection began. Moreover, since it was first noticed last year, and then again this year, the incidence was seen to have increased.
With what was uncovered at Sacred Heart in Augst, a similar medical examination of male students was undertaken at Mainohana last month revealing similar statistics.
Also, investigations were undertaken at our nearby primary schools at Tapini. These primary schools are ‘community’ schools giving a further indication of what is going on in these communities. This was not done to single out schools (and communities) in the Tapini area. It was done at these schools because of their proximity and ease of access to provide a sample pool. Medical investigations are to take place at all our primary schools in diocese early next year. I imagine a similar picture will emerge.
When this problem of penis injection first came to our attention at Sacred Heart last year, we did not act on it other than to keep it ‘ín house’ and deal with it as a discipline problem in the school. We also were inactive in providing treatment for these students, as we did not have the advice we have now or means to go about it at the time. However, when it came to our attention again this year (in August) with an alarming increase in incidence amongst male students, warning bells rang that we were dealing with a much bigger problem then what we first thought. It is not ‘in house’ but a major social problem.
The practice of men and boys in PNG injecting their penis with an oil substance has a history. I quote from advice I received from a long serving doctor in PNG, Dr Greg Law:
“The problem you describe is very common and has been so for many years. The practice started in Sandaun Province about 10 – 15 years ago and then spread through Momase and then throughout PNG. At first men from Sandaun were going across the border to get the injections in Jayapura, then bringing back various products into Sandaun and doing the injections themselves. Sadly many male health workers got involved and made quite a lot of money doing these injections at that time. All this was while I was still in NDoH. I did some corrective surgery myself and then started referring them to the surgeons / urologists. They soon became overwhelmed with the scale of the problem and the official policy for many years has been that they will not repair the damage surgically within the public health system because it uses up a huge amount of time and resources. Some surgeons are doing some reconstructions in the private hospitals and charging huge fees. It is not easy and is a pretty bloody process.
It is a huge problem nationally – even in remote parts of Bougainville and the other Islands and throughout the Highlands. I have seen many, many men and boys who can no longer have sexual intercourse because of the deformity. Just recently when I was at the City Mission Farm past Bautama doing medicals – I would say that probably 85% of them all, have had the injections. It is very common. The damage depends on how much (oil) is used and just where it is injected.
These days it is usually baby oil but I have known them to inject cooking oil, melted margarine, skin lotion, melted candle wax, coconut oil +++++++
NDoH and the surgeons are very aware of the problem.
This is such a huge problem and on such a grand scale.”
I am shocked by what I have found out since when I began to seriously investigate this problem, the extent of this problem in PNG, and the apparent indifference of health authorities to even simple preventative measures, beginning with public awareness.
I am hearing stories from our students at Sogeri NHS of the number of students there who have this problem. I am appalled by stories I heard of outsiders coming into the school (unknown to the school administration) to sell oily substances to students for penis enlargement, and doing injections on students in the dormitory.
This is not a problem confined to Sacred Heart and Mainohana. It is a problem seen in schools across the country. At our two schools I believe we have demonstrated a pastoral care for the well-being of our students and taken appropriate action to tackle the problem.
Public Awareness is urgently required stem this trend of penis injection and prevent further damage being done on boys in our communities. This is of paramount concern. This is being done by the diocese prior to students heading home for the holiday period, as this is the time when things usually happen. Posting on FB is an effective means of getting the message out there, fast.
Seen in this light, this is not ‘bad publicity’ or even ‘very bad publicity’ for our schools, buts shows a level of responsibility on the part of our school authorities that distinguishes them as being ‘schools of excellence’ where it matters most – care of students.
Fr Brian Cahill msc
Catholic Diocese of Bereina