St John blames Health Dept for delaying funds

National, Normal

ST JOHN yesterday said the Health Department bureaucracy should be blamed for delays in releasing funds to pay staff.
Chief commissioner Doug Kelson stressed that St John Ambulance provided an excellent service to the people of Papua New Guinea, however, it was the responsibility of the department to pay salaries.
Mr Kelson said the St John management understood and supported the grievances of its workers and was doing all it could to resolve the situation with the department.
In response to questions raised about a reported drug shortage at the Gerehu Hospital in Port Moresby, was one of the concerns raised by workers who walked off work on Monday.
He said even the drug shortage was due to the Health Department not buying enough medicine to meet the demand of medical care. 
“World Health Organisation has indicated that PNG should be spending US$8 to US$10 per person on drugs.
“But in fact it is only spending about US$ 3  per person which is why the health care centres are facing problems with drug shortage,” Mr Kelson said. 
He said the Health Department only bought supplies on a three-month basis when in reality that supply only lasted two months.
Meanwhile, St John commissioner for health services, Dr Isaac Ak,e said yesterday the Government had allocated K3.1 million in 2008 and K3 million in 2009 for health care services.
Dr Ake said St John acknowledged and was aware of the urgent priority areas the health department was currently addressing to bring effective delivery of health services.
However, the issue raised by the St John staff is of importance and needed consideration as well.
Attempts to get an immediate response from the department yesterday were unsuccessful.