Watchdog raises concerns following move by minister


TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has condemned a circular from the health minister barring health workers, chief executives, hospital boards and management from speaking to the media.
The circular, which has since been circulating on social media, “instructs and directs that no individual health worker or chief executive officer or management and boards at all levels shall provide any information on any subject of health matters and/or issues, to any means of media”.
It directed that all statements should be made only by the Office of the Health and HIV/AIDS Minister.
TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens said the instructions from the Health Minister Sir Puka Temu was a great disappointment.
“Does he seriously think that he should be the only person permitted to comment if there is no medicine available for health workers to treat patients?” he said.
“The medical supplies contracts have apparently not produced the outcomes we were promised, if a health worker finds he or she does not have what is needed, the public needs to know.”
Stephens said though such information should of course reach the minister, and quickly, what was more important was that people know that their health services were working.
Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker supported TIPNG saying the government made a commitment, through its membership of the international open government partnership, to pursuing the objectives of open governance.
“Open governance, including freedom of information, is enshrined in PNG’s Constitution and fiscal transparency (budgets, revenue, allocations and expenditure, public procurement, at the national and local levels available to the public in an accurate and timely manner) is critical to good governance and ensuring that government is working effectively for the public it serves, and not wasting or misusing public funds.”

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