Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea > ‘Corrupt’ drug deal halts aid to PNG

‘Corrupt’ drug deal halts aid to PNG

December 30, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Always interesting to see how the neo-liberal press is framing the issue…

Rowan Callick | The Australian

THE Australian government has halted its $38 million aid program to supply drugs to health centres around Papua New Guinea, following Port Moresby’s awarding of the key contract to a company with a record of providing drugs from China that are viewed as substandard.

The company won the contract despite being the highest tenderer.

Nakapi Tefuarani and Glen Mola, the president and treasurer of the PNG Medical Association, who are also leading doctors and professors of medicine, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill warning that it appeared that the procurement process for $46 million worth of drugs for next year would be “corrupt again”.

They said the government required tenderers to be International Standards Organisation accredited. However, the Central Supply and Tenders Board first extended the deadline for tenderers and then removed its own ISO requirement.

In 2011, an article in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences by Anita Nair and colleagues from the Goethe University, in Frankfurt, reported that all samples of medicines supplied to PNG from the North China Pharmaceutical Group failed to meet quality standards, and one sample was “clearly counterfeit”.

Many of the medicines supplied in recent years by the winner of the tender for next year, Borneo Pacific, have been imported from NCPG.

The Medical Association leaders warned that the withdrawal of Australia would leave PNG “to local wantok distribution companies sending out low-quality and possibly counterfeit medicines to our hospitals and health centres”, leading to “the deaths of many Papua New Guineans and also much disability”.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told The Australian yesterday that she had discussed this issue at the joint ministerial forum on December 11, and had handed a letter to her PNG counterpart Rimbink Pato explaining Australia’s deep concerns.

She said: “We are trying to encourage PNG to support the establishment of an independent health procurement authority” — for which Australia would provide technical assistance, for legislation and its administration. Australia would resume its aid program to support the distribution of medical supplies that met the required standards.

Michael Malabag, the PNG Health Minister, has defended the tender, telling the Post-Courier newspaper there that “AusAID is kicking up a lot of fuss as their preferred supplier is not considered”, while Borneo Pacific is “in the process of acquiring” ISO accreditation.

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  1. Watchdog
    December 30, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Highest bidder, worst standards, yet gets the contract???? Do I smell a……… KICKBACK TO MALABAG??????!!!

  2. Zymhan
    December 31, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Why do we as Papua New Guineans sit and do nothing? Has anyone one of us got the guts to do anything about the corruption that is happening right before our very eyes? How can the medical Fraternity stand idly by and do nothing? If they think lives will be lost because of substandard drugs then do something about it, otherwise lets just stop all the hullabaloo. Papua New Guinea has become a land of complacent people.

    • Look n da mirror
      January 2, 2014 at 10:22 am

      May I ask you what you’ve decided to do, other than whinge about the problem along with the rest of us? Hmmmmm? HMMMMMMMMMMM????????

      • Zymhan
        May 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm

        Perhaps you could suggest something for us to do. I am open to suggestions.

  3. JUDY
    December 31, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Do I smell the dog called corruption that is all over PNG is all the Health;it looks like PNG we are all gone to the dogs as they say.But I still hope PNG will drop this dog called corrupt but when??!!!

  4. C Koa
    January 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Its the same company that was selling anti venom for snake bites to public hospitals in PNG some years back. Its’ selling price for a dose (bottle) was four times higher. But the scary part was these anti venoms were not for snakes found in PNG. The company was selling anti venom for the treatment of bites from cobra snakes and other snakes found in India and Asia. Dr David williams (Snakeman) – snake bite expert at that time virgorously protested the sales of those anti venom by this company. Using these anti venom will not have any effect on PNGian snake bites at all thus letting the victim to die at all cost.
    So in the current case the awarding of exclusive rights to this company to supply medicine to PNG was outright corupt. NEC approved the contract based on recommendations from the CSTB whose board membership we all know is always politically influenced – meaning that so many issues were not addressed in the due diligence evaluation of this company’s profile and credentials to satisfy the wishes of our political masters.
    Same on our politicians and corrupt public servants who don’t have the love for their people’s welfare. They don’t care if it negatively affects their relatives back home.

  5. March 6, 2014 at 4:01 am

    Very sad PNG. This should not be happening in this country

  6. Ethical journalism
    April 1, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Fellow Papua New Guineans. I am a whistleblower. I used to work for government during the time when Paias Wingti became PM and introduced the Push North policy. This to me opened the gates for Asian corruption to walk through the doors of Waigani. I understand Wingti visited Malaysia and was told by his then counterpart:’you are the PM, aren’t you Paias – you have the power?’.

    I have in recent times been in the private sector and saw how corruption is also in the private sector – in little ways as many of the foreign corporations are guided by corporate social responsibility regimes of their home countries, but it doesn’t mean the private sector in PNG is clean. Corruption is everywhere and unless we the people come out and do something about it, it won’t stop!

    A couple of comments on this page ask: ‘what are we PNG people doing about corruption and our corrupt leaders’ as opposed to sitting behind commentary pieces such as these. True taik! So I want to suggest this as a response.

    Over the past 10-20 years since the corruption seed started to shoot up as it got nurtured by PNG politicians and bureaucrats, I have stopped celebrating independence because I do not believe I have a reason to celebrate political independence: my relatives in the Momase region are suffering from preventable diseases. My nieces and nephew, cousins etc cannot get decent basic education. School age children in PoM are pushing trolleys to get a kina for their dinner – they cannot afford fees to learn English or Math. My father died from a preventable disease because there was no medical drugs in the rural health centre. Another relative, while chopping firewood for a celebration observing Mothers Day had an accident with the axe. There was no anaesthetics in the same health centre so to stop the man from bleeding to death, he was held down by 4 other strong and fit village men while the nurse stitched his massive wound. The poor man screamed with pain, but he is now alive and continuing his daily routine of looking after his family gardening, copra and cocoa making, fishing etc. How many of our relatives are facing similar challenges daily in their remote PNG villages. They do not ask the government for money. There is no social security. They just get on with working the gardens honestly to look after their families.

    In the meantime, Paul Paraka, Michael Malabag, Peter O’Neill, Justin Tkchenko, Michael Somare, Wartoto, Paul Tiensten, Rimbunan Hijau owners,, Arthur Somare, etc are enjoying first class / first world medical care in Australia or Singapore. Their kids are attending expensive schools and their wives are living lives like Ms PNG contestants.

    I would like to suggest that in 2014, instead of us the people celebrating Independence, let us stage peaceful protest marches from all corners of PNG, Instead of waving flags, let us wave placards with words that ask why those we vote in to look after our needs choose to look after their own pockets and those of their foreign friends in Asia, Australia, New Zealand.
    Let’s face it we have no reason to celebrate. We did not shed blood to get independence as many other countries such as East Timor did. It was given to us.

    We need to make our politicians stand up and notice that we do not want them to treat us as fools anymore. We need them to know that we know what they are doing for themselves and not for us the people who voted for them. We need to tell them that we refuse to come to a celebration and sit down like little children and listen to their lies in public speeches during Independence celebrations all over the country. We need to tell them enough is enough!

    I am disappointed that those PNGeans who have migrated to Australia and other places have parties on independence day where they eat and drink and not care about the real meaning of independence. While they are in a great position to stand up for their wantoks back at home and stage marches on Independence Day to send a message to Waigani, they simply use the day to party then sit back like armchair experts and comment on corruption in PNG. It is lovely to be an expert when you are in the secure comforts of a Cairns or Brisbane suburb. Why aren’t they doing what other ethic groups are doing in Australia to raise awareness on the bad things happening in their home countries?

    A peaceful march on independence day is a strong message. It will attract media coverage all over the world. Let us plant the good seed that grows and takes over the corrupt weed in our garden. Our seed has values and is blessed by God and his values.

    We are not doing what Egyptians and South Africans and others have done to fight government. I am suggesting we do it peacefully and send a very strong message to Waigani. Others will join us and the world will take notice that finally PNG is standing up to its corrupt politicians and bureaucrats and foreigners living in the country.

    Say no to corruption! Stage a peaceful protest march on September 16, 2014.

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