By HELEN TARAWA
PRIME Minister James Marape has tasked three department secretaries to see that the much talked-about cancer unit at the Angau hospital in Lae is operational and maintained.
The only cancer unit in the country had been the centre of attention and debate for some years because of its failure to serve people suffering from cancer.
Those who could afford had to pay for their treatment overseas.
“Whoever is health secretary, finance secretary and planning secretary, make this happen and I’m throwing this back to them now,” he said.
“(The) prime minister cannot be attending to everything. (If) you want your jobs, make this sort of thing happen. People are dying.”
Marape is on his first official visit to Australia where he plans to discuss with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison some assistance on health.
He said before leaving the country the bill on radiation had been passed by Parliament “and it’s all about getting the right resources in”. “I have visited the Lae cancer unit. They are undergoing refurbishment and maintenance at the moment,” Marape said.
“Part of our issues would be to ensure that current level of service is maintained as we embark on new programmes going into the future.”
Meanwhile, Cabinet has approved a one-year contract to a supplier of medical drugs but warned it will also be reviewing the procurement process.
Marape said Cabinet had questioned the three-year contract awarded to the company (named).
“There were Cabinet views on the contract and the contractor. Due to the need for supplying medicines for 2019 based on advice from Health Secretary Pascoe Kase that there was shortage experienced, Cabinet allowed a one-year contract,” he said.
“We’ve cleared the contract for this year only, contrary to the advice that came to us for a three-year contract. We are reviewing the process in which medical drugs would be procured in country efficiently with quality interventions from 2020 onwards.”
Marape said the procurement for this year’s medical supplies which went through the previous Cabinet had been approved for “a couple of companies to be given contract for that”.
He said the most important stage of the approval process had been concluded before the new government came in.
“The follow-up submission sent to the Governor-General for signing was brought to our Cabinet. There were views on the contract and the contractor. But because of the need for us to supply medicines as the drugs were running out, cabinet allowed a one-year contract,” he said.
Marape said Health Secretary Pascoe Kase had been tasked to look into the procurement process and the quality of drugs to ensure the system was refined “to get value for money as well as timely purchases and distribution of medicine”.
By HELEN TARAWA