Prevention is better than cure

Editorial

PREVENTION will always be better than cure, as the saying goes.
Time after time we see fellow citizens fall to preventable illness or medical procedures and processes.
Fingers most times would point to the hospitals’ ill-equipped state and then extend the blame to the paying-first-before-receiving-treatment policy by some of our privately owned and run hospitals.
Time and again we argue that we have all the money in the world to have world-class hospitals, yet we don’t.
When we do try to upgrade our facilities, we are faced with uncompleted projects, budget overruns and the lot that derails the project completion.
All these are part and parcel of delivering what is lacking in our major referral hospitals, which are inundated with maladministration and mismanagement by hospital boards, lack of motivation, lack of care and pride and under-resourcing of health workers.
It was comforting to hear Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Sir Puka Temu during the opening of the 8th High Level Meeting on Health Economy last week when he embraced the theme of “Transforming primary healthcare through investment, innovation and collaboration”.
So how do we get there? First and foremost, we need to seriously look at streamlining the head of all major referral hospitals administration – the hospital boards.
Kudos to the health minister for setting the target of completing the implementation of the Provincial Health Authority in all provinces.
He believes that through this organisational change, the delivery of primary healthcare in PNG will improve by materialising right down to community level.
At the same time, the Government should consider disbanding all those unnecessary red tape of management and align the executive head office (CEO) of the hospitals to one regulatory hospital board, which will, as a start, be overseen by the health department and the ministry.
Eventually, we have to build capacity and move it out to an independent authority in all national referral hospitals.
Once that is achieved, this authority board can start looking at the appropriate roadmap to build capacity in our national referral hospitals to have the ability and capacity to deliver quality healthcare.
They will ensure that our doctors and nurses have the best and latest equipment and back-to-back technical support and warranty from the equipment suppliers.
From CT scans, ultrasound machines, MRI scans to digital X-ray systems and the lot.
We need the best and well-trained and regularly updated technically skilled biomedical engineers, managers and technicians to ensure all these medical equipment are always up and running for our doctors and nurses to use to save lives, through early detection and prevention.
They will ensure that we can fund visiting experienced overseas medical specialists and at the same time use them on either long or short-term contracts to build capacity and skills.
That the skilled local doctors, specialists, nurses and technical resources are well looked after and retained with binding employment contracts.
With all of these the Government should be prepared to provide huge capex budgets annually to continue funding and building capacity in our primary healthcare system.
Nothing is impossible. It can be done.

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