PNG must upgrade its health services

Letters, Normal

IN one way or another, all of us from the remote hamlets to the cities have allowed our health services to deteriorate to an alarming condition. 
We have kept our mouths shut and not spoken out for too long.
As a result, the Angau Memorial Hospital is now overstretched.
For too long, our leaders have been telling us that our financial resources are scarce.
This has led our health services in the rural areas to deteriorate to such an extent that our rural people are going straight to our major hospitals to seek services.
It is time now to refocus and redirect our strategy. 
I suggest the Port Moresby General Hospital, Angau Memorial Hospital and Mt Hagen General Hospital be upgraded to the level of Cairns Base Hospital or hospitals of similar level in Queensland, Australia. 
I am not suggesting centres like the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. 
Three CT scans should be installed in all our major hospitals.
When we looked after Lorengau Hospital some years ago, we found it cheaper, easier and faster to refer our patients to Lae than Nonga regional hospital. 
I am sure if somebody were to conduct a survey, it will reveal that almost half of the bed occupants of these three major hospitals would be from the rural area. 
Upgrading these hospitals would be of great benefit to our rural folks.
It is time our people experienced better medical care. 
How many people can afford to raise K80,000 to K100,000 to go overseas for check-ups and treatment?
It is time to bring some physical changes to the type of medical care that we are providing for our people. 
Our doctors, nurses and other health workers can provide these changes. 
After 34 years of Independence, our people deserve something better than just “aspirin” and ‘chloroquine” for all medical or surgical problems.
If you want quality health service, you have to be prepared to spend something. 
If there is no money, then how come our MPs can receive pay rise?
If we don’t make these changes now, then we can forget about providing any type of quality health care for our people. 
Other Pacific nations will move ahead of us and we will be left behind despite our natural resources.
It’s time for action, not just rhetoric.
Last year, a young Timorese midwife (trained nurse), in her mid-20s with two young children (less than five years old) developed a mild medical problem.
She told the “malae” doctor that she was allergic to penicillin and if he could switch to something different. 
The “malae” doctor told her that if he gave the penicillin slowly, there should be no problem. 
The young midwife died and her young children will grow up without a mother.
What a terrible tragedy.
My friend and brother Dr Isaac Ake (former secretary and deputy secretary for Health) once said and I quote: “I dare to suggest that the health services of this country are headed nowhere and the symptoms of unplanned human resource projections, production and management, already witnesses, will increase.”
In the same paper, he said: “There is no sin punished more implacably by nature than the sin of resistance to change.”
Health planners must take the brave step to decide what health services they want for tomorrow (PNG MJ, 1990).


Dr Chamilou S Posanau
Dili, Timor Leste