A LOT of systemic inequality has been exposed as the realities of the coronavirus pandemic response sets in.
It is easier for some people to deal with the crisis than others.
So it was great to see the Government step up and deliver a financial assistance package during the Parliament session that had people’s wellbeing at its heart.
This is a good first step and we look forward to seeing more support measures rolled out over the coming weeks.
The Government is now aggressive in its preparedness in containing the Covid-19. PNG has many health challenges.
There is low awareness of improved health and hygiene practices.
Combined with difficulties accessing adequate health services and facilities due to remote locations and under-resourced health systems, this creates poor health outcomes.
Our country’s infant mortality and childhood malnutrition rates are the highest in the Asia-Pacific region.
A staggering 48 per cent of all children show signs of growth stunting.
Health outcomes for pregnant and lactating women are also poor and, although on the decline, maternal mortality remains high.
Tuberculosis cases are the highest in the Pacific region and there has been a worrying increase in drug-resistant strains of the disease.
Poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, coupled with low awareness of healthy hygiene behaviours also contribute to a high burden of illness and disease.
What about all this?
Should the government be focusing on this as well before the Covid -19 pandemic outbreak?
The country has been facing these health issues since independence.
Too much money is spent on Covid-19 and here we have mothers and children dying every day because of lack of basic health services.
Pregnant mothers are dying while giving birth because of rundown aid post and poor health services in rural villages.
Why has this been overlooked?
Why no funds was budgeted to upgrade the health system in this country?
Why there was no financial assistant packages for this?
The coronavirus pandemic will test our Government and our values as a society.
Are we prepared to show togetherness, love and respect for our mothers and children who have faced health issues in the remote areas with no proper health care, proper water and sanitation?
Are we prepared to look out for each other or will we sacrifice others for personal gain?
Will we put the interests of the economy first or the wider community?
Will our leaders rise to the challenge or play political games?
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen all of this – panic-buying and hoarding but also care and compassion, both at home and across the Pacific.
We’ve witnessed dedicated leadership but also petty point-scoring and opportunistic interventions.
We need systemic solutions to these kinds of protection gaps and problems.
In the meantime, we can keep our community connections strong and model the behaviour we want our leaders and Government to adopt and show us that love and compassion are stronger than fear.
I would appreciate if the Government can spend money well on aid post, health systems.
Access to critical medical supplies is paramount in remote villages, basic health service should be upgraded to match the growing population.
People’s health and wellbeing should be the number one priority for any government that come after five years.
Ian Aima Serege