Health secretary must wake up

Letters, Normal

The National

CAN the Health secretary tell the people of Papua New Guinea why the Government is incapable of providing doctors for the rural people?
Is he aware that every morning, when he sits in comfort in his office, mothers and babies are dying in remote, isolated and rural parts of the country?
At the recent medical symposium, he emphasised on innovation and transformation to address health problems in PNG.
But has he been innovative and transformative?
When the former Health minister Sir Peter Barter announced his plan to bring in Cuban doctors to serve in the rural communities to address this problem, academics, policy advisers, Government bureaucrats, prominent intellects, research institutions and critics jumped up and down to protest against this proposal.
Their main reason was that it would undermine our own health system and principally, our hard working local doctors who are under resourced, overstretched and lowly paid.
This is true for doctors serving in public hospitals and health centres because they are the ones directly serving the public.
Like everyone else, doctors need good schools for their children, security, good accommodation, banking facilities and other services for their families to settle down and provide their services to the public.
However, in most rural and isolated areas, we do not have such facilities, something our politicians have a lot to explain.
In fact, it is impossible to lure any doctor or specialist to rural areas.
Regrettably, no health secretary has come up with a plan that is simple, straight, practical and innovative to address this issue.
While secretaries come and go, it has become apparent that they are always burying themselves in policy and planning business at Waigani while the people in rural and remote areas continue to suffer and die.
The current secretary is making frequent press statements on this and that but the fundamental issue remains unaddressed.
We must never forget that these are fellow Papua New Guineans who deserved to be treated equally like anyone of us living in the urban centres.
I call on the Health secretary and the National Planning Department to tell us how they plan to resolve this problem.
Otherwise, step aside and make way for capable people to address this problem.


Sprox Walker
Port Moresby