PNG health boost


CUBAN doctors will start working in Papua New Guinea’s district hospitals within the next three months, according to the National Doctors Association president Dr James Naipao.
This follows talks last week in Havana between a Government delegation led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and including senior PNG doctors, and Cuban government authorities. Naipao said a memorandum of understanding signed in Havana last Wednesday included the deployment to PNG of between 20 and 30 primary health doctors “to at least 10 district hospitals where there are no doctors” within three months.
Also included is “an immediate deployment of a cancer specialist to Angau Hospital and employment of some biomedical technologists”.
Cuba will also provide professors for the “proposed revitalised School of Medicine and Health Science” which will be called the PNG Medical and Health Sciences University.
“Cuba will assist PNG with medical drugs and vaccines for general medical diseases and non-communicable drugs in diabetes, cancer and hypertension,” Naipao said in a statement yesterday.
He said the Government was planning to increase the under-graduate intake from 100 to 300 in the MBBS programme.
Naipao urged the 100 PNG doctors “without jobs or employed outside the public health system and wishing to join the health sector” to immediately get in touch with the doctors’ association, Health Department or the medical board pre-registration committee chairman.
He said at present, the country employed only 15,000 health workers when it should be 55,000.
“Doctor to patient ratio is one doctor to 17,000 people. This ratio is the worst in the Oceania region including Australia and New Zealand,” Naipao said.
He said the freezing of new positions in the public service had restricted the employment of more health workers.
The PNG delegation in Cuba included Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, School of Medicine and Health Sciences Dean Professor Nakapi Tefuarani, Medical Board chairman Dr Osbourne Liko (chief
surgeon), NDA secretary Dr Sam Yockopua (chief emergency physician) and Naipao who is the chief head and neck surgeon.
They visited a medical institution, medical school, biotechnology institution and hospital.
They concluded that:

  • Cuba’s main priority was primary healthcare “and the country is second to none in this one”;
  • Its immunisation coverage is second to none in the world;
  • It is a leading player in the innovation of drugs in the treatment of diabetes;
  • It is taking the lead in prolonging the life of cancer patients with better drugs innovation to treat cancers; and,
  • Cuba is leading in the innovation of vaccines.

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