Expert: K350m for health not good enough

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 25th January 2012

THE K350 million allocated by the government for free medical services is insufficient and makes a fool of the people, a medical expert said.
Mt Hagen provincial hospital acting chief executive officer Dr Michael Dokup said on a radio talkback show the health sector needed billions of kina to provide quality health services from the provincial to district levels.
He said many health facilities at the provincial and districts level were falling apart and some had even closed.
There was also a shortage of manpower, with many doctors and nurses leaving the public sector to work with in the private sector such as in the LNG project.
Dokup said the Mt Hagen hospital had 13-14 vacancies for nurses, while at Kudjip hospital in Jiwaka, one ward had been closed because of the shortage of nurses.
He said if large hospitals faced such problems, there was little hope for health centres in the rural areas.
He said the Western Highlands health authority, which was established last year, was now coming up with plans to address these problems.
He said there was a need for community health workers and nurses to counter the manpower shortfall.
Dokup said the K350 million for the free health service “is a joke” and would create more problems for the health sector.
He said it was not enough to run effective health services in the country.
He said when he worked in Australia, the free medical care worked well because they had a medical scheme in place and every Australian received free medical services.
Dokup said there was no such scheme in PNG.
He said the Mt Hagen hospital was now providing some free medical care to tuberculosis patients, HIV/AIDS, disabled, mental health, anti-natal clinic and free food for in-patients.
Dokup said health workers were working under too much pressure.
He said he did not know who gave such advice to the prime minister.