National Geographic : 1967 May
Haunting ruins of Nanmatol pose a riddle for archeologists. Built on Ponape of rock "logs" - huge crystals of basalt found on the island-such enclosures spread over a hundred islets that fill a swampy lagoon. Local legend hints that the structures' owners were tyrants who a Micronesian health aide, shuttling from is land to island, his equipment a first-aid kit, his qualifications a spoonful of medical knowl edge and a heartful of fraternity. On Majuro, I met a counterpart of Dr. Ueki: Dr. Tregar Ishoda. We toured the Marshall Islands hospital together. Next door stood the Trust Territory's rehabilitation cen ter for polio victims (page 744), housed in salvaged metal barracks from atom-bomb testing days on Bikini Atoll. The center came into being, Dr. Ishoda told me, after a tragic polio epidemic; an American family had brought the disease in 1963. Dr. Ishoda drove me back to my quarters. En route, he gestured toward a cluster of rust-rotted World War II quonset huts in sundry stages of collapse. "Until last week, my family and I shared one of those with another doctor's family." 734 He pointed again. "But now we have that new metal hut to ourselves. It's a step up." He stopped to let me off before the hand some three-bedroom house to which I had been assigned. Equipped with an electric stove, refrigerator, and shower, it awaited an American doctor or administrator. Threat of Disease Stalks Outer Islands "But better things are coming for us, we hope," Dr. Ishoda said. "Meanwhile, our hos pital service improves all the time. We haven't done much for our outer islands yet, though. Even immunization is not completed. These people are vulnerable to almost anyepidemic." Beyond the hospital, the rest of Majuro was a depressing Micronesian slum. Its future epidemics could be such urban problems as unemployment and juvenile delinquency. For two nights, Majuro wined and dined the Hawaiian Airlines officials. Talk about Micronesia's future became almost giddy.