The National, Monday 20th August, 2012
By ELLEN TIAMU
WORK on rebuilding Angau Memorial Hospital, in Lae, Morobe, to international standards should begin within the next five years, Lae parliamentarian and Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development, Loujaya Toni said.
Toni met with members of the hospital board on Saturday morning in Lae.
Since her election, Toni has placed Angau Memorial Hospital on her list of priorities, saying it caters for people from all over the country and it would be developed into a state-of-the-art hospital.
After being briefed about the new design for the hospital, Toni said it would become the model hospital, not only in Papua New Guinea but the Western Pacific region.
“This is in line with the government’s free health policy and my ministry deals with community development … we can’t develop communities when people are sick and unwell, they have to be healthy to fully contribute and participate,” she said.
The Angau Hospital board endorsed and submitted a hospital plan to former health minister and former Huon Gulf MP Sasa Zibe in 2008, with tenders going through the Central Supply and Tenders Board.
Three contractors were selected out of the 17 who expressed interest but cabinet knocked back the proposal, with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill describing it as an extravagant white elephant.
But Toni said she would be working closely with O’Neill, health and monitoring and planning ministers and overseas financiers to ensure the project got off the ground.
“I don’t want to one day find myself seeking treatment at the hospital and thinking I could have done more while I had the opportunity,” she said.
The new 620-bed structure will house modern facilities, with authorities anticipating conducting organ transplant operations within 20 years.
The new hospital will be built on the same site as the existing one.
Many of the hospital buildings had to be pulled down after being badly affected by termites, reducing in-patient bed numbers from 500 to 360.
Angau’s chief executive officer, PolapoiChalau said as well as catering for the general public, the new building would provide treatment and care for workers of major businesses and serve as a teaching and research centre for the Western Pacific region.
It is expected to cost about K500 million.
A large number of cancer patients from throughout the country seek treatment at the hospital.
“This will definitely be something the O’Neill government is remembered for,” Toni said.