New Angau Hospital to be built at existing site

Lae News, Normal

The National, Thursday November 7th, 2013


 A NEW Angau Memorial Hospital will be built at the existing facility, chief executive officer Dr Polapoi Chalau says. 

And if all goes to plan, the new hospital will be built and equipped to international health standards to facilitate organ transplants and other specialised surgical procedures by 2018.

Every clinical ward will feature state of-the-art facilities to afford Papua New Guineans and visitors the best in health care and services, Chalau said.

He can afford to be expansive because the hospital is finally within reach of slightly over K742 million, thanks to the partnership fostered out of the asylum seekers deal with Australia.

Though less by a couple of millions, it is still within the initial target range proposed by the hospital’s board and management for a “futuristic hospital” over the past five years.

“The new Angau will set a new benchmark for health care and set the pace for redevelopment of other regional facilities,” he said. 

“It will be a hospital designed to serve Papua New Guineans today, tomorrow and into the future.”   

One of two cardiologists in the country, Chalau is excited about the possibility of finally doing heart transplants in the country.

“Just imagine taking a heart from a newly dead person and transplanting it into a live person right here in this country,” he said.

“The days of going overseas for expensive procedures and treatments will be over.”

That is saying a Papua New Guinean child can get a life-saving heart transplant or operation here, and not die on parents trying to raise funds to go abroad for the delicate and expensive procedure. 

Admittedly ambitious, the team behind it has undergone its fair share of disappointments over the years, including outright rejections by two state ministers. 

National Planning Minister Charles Abel had scoffed at a request by the hospital’s deputy board chairman Dr Graham Atkins for K40 million to buy a blueprint for the new facility last year. 

A similar scenario ensued when Health Minister Michael Malabag visited the troubled health facility this year.

“Be realistic with the limited resources you have,” Malabag had urged diplomatically. 

K15 million is in the Angau bag right now, following the state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill recently.

Chalau said they were waiting for the National Executive Council to release the specifics before the board and management could apply it to rescue the selected proponents of the facility.

That is further to an additional K10 million expended over the past seven years on maintaining infrastructures, according to Chalau.

But these are remedial measures based on isolated knee-jerk reactions to the real and critical state of affairs at the country’s second largest referral hospital.

It is perhaps reflective of the debilitated and outmoded state of affairs in the public health sector here.  

As Chalau puts it, the development is ambitious but necessary to overhaul the public health care system.