The National, Wednesday 8th May 2013
THE Public Accounts Committee has described the Laloki Psychiatric Hospital outside Port Moresby as a “national disgrace”.
This is because of its poor state plus the lack of attention given to the welfare, safety and security of staff and patients.
At the inquiry into the Health Department, committee chairman John Hickey told health secretary Pascoe Kase and acting chief executive officer Yamele Getzo that the committee had been concerned after going through a report on the state of hospital tabled in parliament last year.
Getzo told the inquiry that there were 105 patients in one ward and that included the “criminally insane”, those with infectious diseases and the chronically mentally ill.
He said the hospital had 84 staff members.
“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards there should be one staff member to one patient but we don’t have that,” he said.
“During the day one staff member can attend to five to 10 patients and in the night one staff member to about 20 to 25 patients.
“This is a national disgrace and we should hang our heads in shame. If the courts sentenced the criminally insane to Laloki, it puts the lives of staff at risk.”
Given the state of the hospital, Hickey told Getzo that the patients were being incarcerated rather than treated at the facility and it was a human rights issue.
Another issue highlighted in the report was the unreliable water supply to the hospital.
According to the report, the inquiry heard in 2010 that the water supply to the hospital was cut off from illegal connections by nearby settlers.
The bore hole which was the only source was polluted and the purifier had broken down years ago and had not been fixed.
Kase said they had inspected the area and gave a report to Eda Ranu to fix the problem. But illegal connections by nearby settlers affected the supply to the hospital resulting in low water pressure or no water at all.
Getzo added that they were currently paying K5,000 a week to cart water from the city to the hospital.
“About two weeks ago staff members were about to walk off their jobs because of the poor water supply, staff housing, deteriorating wards and the provision of funds.”
“We need adequate funds to manage the hospital. K4 million is not enough.”
The inquiry also heard that K2.5 million was allocated from the department’s development budget for infrastructural development at the hospital.
Work started last month on three transit homes for staff, renovation on five staff houses and a new office building.