University will fix doctor shortage: Minister


HEALTH Minister Elias Kapavore said the issue of shortage of doctors in the country could only be addressed with a standalone medical university and the training of medical students at other major institutions.
Kapavore said given the current ratio of one doctor for every 20,000 people, the Government was trying to address the shortage of doctors in the country and had taken several measures.
He had instructed the new Medical Board of PNG with the support of two Australian medical professors to visit the Divine Word University next month to assess the curriculum and its facilities related to the teaching of medicine.
Kapavore said while the DWU medical programme had its critics, the curriculum and training offered at Madang institution the two professors would be able to give him a clear understanding what the school needed to produce qualified and quality graduates.
He said based on their report, a review of the curriculum would be done if needed to ensure the changes were made in order for DWU to graduate its first doctors in 2021 which he said would double the number of annual graduates.
Kapavore said the UPNG Medical School graduated fewer than 50 medical doctors a year and that could not meet demand especially with plans to build hospitals in all districts in the country.
He said it was obvious that the country needed to have a second tertiary institution offering medicine in order to build up the number of doctors.
He said the recruitment of overseas medical professionals was a short-term measure and that eventually he wanted to lower the ratio of doctors to patients
Kapavore said the other option the Government was seriously considering was to make UPNG’s Medical Faculty into a standalone Medical School as approved by the state in 2014,
He said the Higher Education Research Science and Technology Department had been advised to get a new university council installed to revisit an earlier decision by the last board not to comply the National Executive Council directive where the matter was taken to court.