Home > Corruption, Pacific Medical Centre, Papua New Guinea > Health Sector is not in a healthy state

Health Sector is not in a healthy state

November 27, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Post Courier Editorial

Every day in this newspaper, there is someone complaining about the level of health service delivery to the people in this country. These people who complain about the non existence of the most basic health service in their areas, are people who write in from remote areas of the country.

There are others who write in complaining about the shortage of medical drugs, health staff or equipment and these are people who live in areas where there is a health facility but due to these problems, the people are unable to get the best services they required.

Yesterday on the floor of Parliament, the MP for Moresby North East, Andrew Mald raised four important questions. The questions were on the level of treatment available for cancer patients, particularly women, the shortage of ambulance services in Port Moresby, the difficulties faced by patients to obtain visa to go overseas for treatment and the Pacific Medical Centre or the super hospital.

When answering the questions, Health Minister Sasa Zibe admitted that PNG’s health indicators are very low, it is impossible to install radiotherapy equipment in all hospitals, and on the last two questions, the proposed Pacific Medical Centre was the answer.

There have been heated arguments, also in the media, over the proposed Pacific Medical Centre. On one hand, we see Dr Mathias Sapuri, as head of the technical Working Committee defending the proposal and on the other hand Dr Glen Mola, against the proposal. Dr Mola’s argument is that money should be spent on improving the existing health facilities including the hospitals.

As the debate rages, health facilities in the country are under extreme pressure, trying to cope with the high number of patients with all kinds of health problems confronting them daily. Even in the country’s biggest hospital Port Moresby General hospital, there is overcrowding and in the Angau Memorial Hospital, the next biggest hospital, the cancer treatment unit is only accessed by those who are able to make it, while the rest just cannot go because of the high cost of airfares, medical costs and other associated problems.

We fail to see the logic in the arguments put forward by Dr Sapuri and Minister Zibe that the proposed Pacific Medical Centre will be of help to everyone in PNG.

First, it will be located in the Central Province. What hope is there for patients in Manus, New Ireland, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, West Sepik, East Sepik, Southern Highlands, Enga, and Western Province to access the services at the proposed hospital? The cost of travel for those living in those places will make it much harder for those people to fly down to Port Moresby and over to the super hospital.

Secondly, there is the cost of treatment, which we are told, will be much higher than the fees charged for various services, charged in our current health facilities. Just how does Mr Zibe envisage the ordinary people paying for the services at this proposed hospital? It must be said that the ordinary people will not access these services.

We have to admit that the churches are doing an excellent job in the country in providing much needed health services in the rural areas. And they are doing a good job, compared to the government run services. They get very little help in terms of financial support from the government, yet they run some of the best hospitals, health centres and aid posts. What is their secret?

The health sector gets the second highest appropriation in the national budget every year, yet we do not see much change, rather, the problems are getting worse day by day. It is time, Minister Zibe and his department get real. That is identifying the problems; find the money and fix the problems. We are sure that when there is political will and commitment, international donors will gladly move in with money and expertise to help.

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