By ANDREW ALPHONSE
THE long delay in the signing of memorandum of agreement (MoA) by Tari Hospital with the provincial and national governments will seriously affect the operations of the hospital.
“The delay can throw into chaos the medical and health care services the hospital currently provides to more than 300,000 people in Hela,” Hospital CEO Dr Bravy Koensong said.
He said this on Sunday before flying off to Port Moresby with the MoA documents in his last and desperate bid to get the signatures of Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru, provincial administrator William Powi, Health Minister Sasa Zibe and Health Secretary Dr Clement Malau.
The four are signatories to the MoA which would pave the way for Tari to be declared a fully-fledged ‘“general” hospital like the other 21 provincial hospitals in the country.
Dr Koensong said he did not know the cause of the delay as the four signatories had given their support for Tari Hospital to be upgraded and developed into a “general hospital”.
He said Governor Agiru made the formal announcement on Sept 16 in Tari and since then he had been trying to have the MoA signed so that the administrative and management powers of the hospital could be transferred from the provincial government to the Department of Health (DoH).
Dr Koensong said any further delay to the MoA signing would be detrimental to the improved health and medical care the hospital was currently providing to patients.
He said this when referring to the recent security lapse incident at the hospital which led to the sudden evacuation of international medical team Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders from Tari just before Christmas.
The MSF team which specialises in life-saving emergency surgeries at the hospital returned last week after the security at the hospital was beefed up.
Dr Koensong said the biggest problem facing the hospital was the lack of adequate funding to operate as a fully functional hospital.
He said the provincial government gave K100,000 per year but the funding was inadequate to maintain full operations.
“The Hela population is now at 300,000 people and with a high birth rate of 3.1%.
“Child-bearing age women between 14 and 45 years make up 26% of the population.
“Tari Hospital facilities need to be upgraded and elevated to meet the pressing demands
by the population boom,” he said.
Dr Koensong said he had worked on improving manpower and health care at the hospital after his posting in September 2008, struggling without qualified doctors for 17 years.
MSF runs the surgical division of the hospital, national doctors under his supervision look after internal medicines, paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology, out-patient and other services while he runs the general administration.
Dr Koensong said the MoA signing was the only best choice for service to be functional in the new Hela province as currently all government services in Tari and Hela were simply non-existent.
“The Hela people have missed out on this vital medical and health care service in the last 20 years and any further delay in the signing of the MoA would be detrimental to the people of Hela,” Dr Koensong said.