Fix primary health care system

Editorial

FAMILIES are losing their loved ones everyday through illness. The most frustrating aspect of their deaths is the fact that all government hospitals in Papua New Guinea are ill-equipped and lack specialist medical staff.
When the Government tries to upgrade hospitals and health facilities, they are faced with all kinds of obstacles.
There is little or no doubt that public hospitals in this country are inundated with maladministration and mismanagement by the respective hospital boards.
Hospitals are critically ill-equipped and under-resourced, which severely affects their capabilities to provide quality healthcare.
An estimated 40% of rural health facilities have closed or are not fully functioning. Limited resources, deteriorating infrastructure, poorly trained staff in the health sector, and inadequate and declining access to basic health services are among the main reasons for the decline.
With that, there is a need to cut unnecessary red tape in hospital management. Only then can the Provincial Health Authority really achieve its purpose.
Then the respective boards can start looking at the appropriate measures to build capacity into our national referral hospitals to have the ability and capacity to deliver quality health care.
We should equip our medical doctors and nurses with the best and latest medical equipment that are covered with back to back technical support and warranty from the equipment suppliers.
From CT scans, ultrasound machines, MRI scans to digital x-ray systems and the lot.
We need to have the best and well trained and regularly updated technically skilled biomedical engineers, managers and technicians to ensure all these medical equipment are always up and running for our doctors and nurses use to save and prevent loss of lives, through early detection and prevention of the root cause of illness or medical disorder.
The respective boards will ensure that there is funding for visiting experienced overseas medical specialists, where we do not have, and at the same time utilise them on either long or short term contracts to build skills capacity and have these skills transferred to local specialists, such as general and heart surgeons and cancer treatment specialist doctors and nurses.
These health authorities should ensure that skilled local specialists are well looked after and retained for a least five to 10-years with binding employment contracts.
With all of these the government should be prepared to provide sufficient funds annually to building capacity for our current primary health care system.
They must be prepared to commit and remained committed to allocate K500-K800 million per year to maintain and sustain a quality health care system.
We need to put aside personal opinion difference of how to fix loop holes in our primary health care system and at the same time seriously and commit to entry and pushing secondary health to a new level. Yes, there are still problems today in our primary health care system, which one cannot deny.
But to get to the secondary level of health care which focus on maintain a quality health care system, we need to start fixing the management red tapes to delivery primary health care system properly and at the same time kick-start secondary health care systems.
Some may argue to focus and clean-up primary health care systems first, but there is no reason why we cannot also kick-start building on secondary health.
And for that to happen, we will need to have a strong, committed and visionary leadership in all hospital authorities which will lead without fear or favour to ensure that the Government’s policy initiatives and programmes for a quality healthcare system become a reality.

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