I welcome the Somare Government’s initial commitment of K20 million as counterpart funding for the Pacific Medical Hospital (PMH) to be built just outside our nation’s capital.
The proposed hospital would be built at the cost of K500 million, with most of the funding and technical expertise coming from various “well-managed” public hospitals and medical institutions in the United States.
Such an unprecedented commitment by the National Government is worth noting and the Minister for Health and his department deserves applause from the public.
The countless benefits that would ensue from embarking on such a multi-million kina project is indeed a welcome news for our people with medical conditions because once it is completed and become fully operational, there is no need to travel overseas for treatment at great personal expenses.
It is ironic though that many of our politicians, bureaucrats (and businessmen) who have been travelling to overseas for medical treatment in great numbers would be able to get the same treatment locally.
Or will they still continue to travel overseas for similar treatments despite having made the decision to build one state-of-the-art hospital locally?
At a time when the nation’s major general and referral hospitals are in dire need of basic equipment to treat patients suffering from curable diseases and other forms of simple medical conditions, the Government has embarked on going “high-tech” in an attempt to provide effective medical services to its people.
What would become of the current dilapidated state of the country’s major hospitals such as POMGH, Angau, Modilon, Nonga Base, Goroka Base, Wewak, Hagen and Mendi general hospitals?
Years of neglect and lack of funding for the upkeep of these hospitals by the National Government is very obvious, let alone adequate funding for the purchase of basic medical equipment.
Our nurses, doctors and public hospital managers work under strenuous conditions with limited budgets.
Over time, successive National Governments have demonstrated their acute inability to fund the upkeep, maintenance or management of all public hospitals throughout the country.
So what guarantee is there that this Government would be different than its predecessors with respect to this landmark hospital?
Politicians over the years have turned a blind eye to the plights of their people.
They know and see the state of affairs prevalent throughout the country and yet have the audacity to travel overseas for medical treatment, send their children and acquire assets overseas.
The National Government talks about providing universal education, yet it cannot adequately finance, properly resource and modestly maintain educational institutions throughout the country.
Politicians and bureaucrats alike “run away” from the problem by sending their children overseas whilst our children learn from obsolete text books under thatched huts or at deteriorating secondary or tertiary institutions.
They also talk about building a state of the art hospital with the initial commitment of K20 million and yet do not have the funds to purchase and replace the only X-ray machine at Angau for cancer patients who are slowly dying.
What are the justifications for building a K500 million hospital when the Government cannot even provide funds for the upkeep and management of all public infrastructures such as sub-health centres, rural and general hospitals, secondary and tertiary educational institutions and other public amenities?
It seems as if this Government is trying to run when it cannot not even stand up and walk unaided.