Drug row

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By REBECCA KUKU
THE National Doctors’ Association (NDA) and the Government, specifically the National Health Department (NHD), appear to be heading for a “bruising showdown” over the country’s controversial procurement and supply of medicines (pharmaceutical drugs).
Despite the pro-government National Health Board’s (NHB) call to doctors to support and work with health secretary Pascoe Kase, the NDA is going ahead with its decision to submit its demands to the Government for the immediate change of the health secretary and the suspension of the two contracts, worth more than K100 million, awarded to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceutical Ltd (BPPL).
The NDA has indicated that it had 10 valid points for their demands, and that doctors would walk off their jobs if the Government did not act within a week after the submission of their demands.
NHB of Papua New Guinea deputy chairman Dr Mathias Sapuri called on doctors to support the health secretary and the NHD by offering appropriate technical advice and solutions as state employees.
“Health is a highly decentralised sector and was also highly complex and large. Therefore, its systems are set to ensure that health services are provided to all citizens of this nation,” he said.
“The role of the NHD is to develop policies, set standards, provide technical advice and monitor health services in the country. It is the responsibility of the provincial health authorities and public hospitals to deliver health services to our people.”
Sapuri said health sector employees, including the health unions, should not challenge the health secretary but to work with his management and offer advice, provide alternatives and work amicably with the department to efficiently and effectively address health challenges.
“The NHB is concerned with the ill-informed social media statements made by NDA, especially with regards to administration and management matters. “The matters raised by NDA are administrative and management in nature, and have clear and established processes to address.
“The NHB is of the view that the NDA interfered into management decisions and must stop creating unnecessary anxiety and panic,” he said.
“It is not the role of the NDA to disrupt and undermine legitimate management decisions. We are disappointed with the way certain professional people are conducting themselves under the good name of the NDA.”
Sapuri also said NHB wanted the NDA executives and the health department management to hold roundtables for the exchange of views and to find common grounds to move forward. “We must stop this nonsense because while you continue to argue in the media and make a mockery of yourselves, people continue to suffer from the vital services we are ethically obligated to deliver,” he said.
“NHB also views that Kase and his management have done so much to address the ever-growing challenges and it is only a matter of months that we will begin to see all these major system reviews and reforms bearing tangible outcomes.”
However, NDA secretary and chief of emergency medicine Dr Sam Yockopua told The National there had never been any such a board as the NHB.
“There has never been any meeting for the last five years even though they are supposed to meet 24 times a year.
“Kase is the chairman and the board has not been functioning. Much of the chaos and dilemma seen at the health department are directly due to this. And this is one of the 10 reasons why we want the secretary to be changed,” he said.
Yockopua said NDA would go ahead with its strike and would be presenting their demands to Prime Minister James Marape this week for the immediate removal of Kase.
Marape is away in Indagen for the 100th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the first Lutheran Mission in Morobe, and is expected to return to Port Moresby tomorrow.

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