Time to stop Goroka’s decline

Editorial, Normal

The National, Thursday July 9th, 2015

 THE fighting over who is right and what should be done to restore normalcy at the Goroka provincial hospital has been going on for far too long already.  

For the benefit of the half-a-million people of Eastern Highlands region, the decline of the hospital must be stemmed now.

If the on-going situation there continues, the hospital’s woes will only worsen and consequently require much more time and financial resources to bring it to its former status or improve and expand it to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population. 

Eastern Highlands has a large population, second only to neighbouring Morobe and needs a modern, well-functioning hospital.  

In contrast to the state of Goroka hospital, the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital next door in Kundiawa is rated one of the better ones in Papua New Guinea.

Naturally Eastern Highlands people who have easy access to Kundiawa by the Highlands Highway would seek medical attention there.  

It is a shame that the once-important referral hospital has been allowed to reach its current status. Most basic medical equipment have aged considerably and need to be urgently replaced. 

But the physical equipment and buildings are only part of the problem and it could be said are a testament to the quality of management at the hospital.

The on-going differences among the staff and management and the provincial health authority over quite a long while have badly affected the operations of the hospital.

Doctors and nurses who have resigned this week have been urged to return to work because their grievances are being addressed.

The National Executive Council recently appointed Ken Wai as caretaker administrator of the hospital and who has appealed to those who have resigned en masse to return to work.

Wai has vowed not to accept any resignation but wants those aggrieved hospital workers to return to their jobs because in his own words, he was prepared to take those supposedly difficult and overdue matters head on in order to get the hospital back on track. He has given his word that new equipment for sections of the hospital would be purchased.

“They must all go back to work as steps are being taken to address the problems facing the hospital. I have talked to Eastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso and Goroka MP Bire Kimisopa and we are working together,” said Wai

“Things will not happen overnight.  By next week a new provincial health authority will be in place.”

Hospital chief executive officer Lillian Siwi has been instructed to immediately reinstate staff who have been terminated.

“We will start restoring services at the hospital within the next two weeks. We have K8 million to restore the hospital services.”

The hospital staff who have protested against the management and have actually resigned must see reason and return to their jobs in order to help restore hospital services.

They know that their mass resignation will obviously cripple the hospital and that is a point that they have made quite clearly. They should now allow common sense to prevail and return to work as has been instructed by the caretaker hospital administrator. Their issues have been taken up at the highest level and the Health Minister is reportedly well-versed about the situation at Goroka Hospital.

The caretaker administrator has made a reasonable offer to the aggrieved staff hospital. A lot has gone wrong over time and it may take even longer to restore the status of the facility. In order for that to happen, the current hospital staff know what needs fixing. 

They should therefore give the fullest cooperation to the hospital administration and together they can sort out all the mess created over the years.

Their refusal to return to work and placing any unreasonable demand will not help in the current situation.

It is understood the hospital already has an initial K8 million at its disposal to start the process of sorting out matters of immediate concern in its administration and physical infrastructure and equipment needs.

That process must be allowed to continue for the hospital to see positive change.