The Melanesian fashion atrocity that is the meri blouse
PNG appoints Colonel Gilbert Toropo as new military chief

Forget quality, PNG medicines OK (or so Tenders Board says)


IN AN AMAZING REVELATION, Mr Babaga Naime, Secretary of the PNG Central Supply and Tenders Board, has issued a statement confirming that Borneo Pacific (BPP) does not need to meet ISO9001 as it isn’t the manufacturer of the pharmaceuticals it supplies and distributes.

Clearly Mr Naime and his Tender Board can’t see any difficulty. However 'Blind Freddy' could surely see what’s wrong with Mr Naime's statement. If the pharmaceuticals distributed by BPP in the past have a history of poor standards, or not actually being what they claim, BPP are therefore, according to Mr Naime, completely absolved of any responsibility.

Can Mr Naime actually substantiate his continued suitability for this important government position based on this reported statement? Based on media reports, Mr Naime made ‘strong representations’ to the NEC to have BPP awarded the contract to supply pharmaceuticals to the PNG people. Those same people who pay his salary as a public servant to look after them and ensure they are properly looked after.

With an appalling lack of public accountability, it appears that the PNG government is happy to sit things out until this whole saga just ‘goes away’. The voters who elected these representatives, trusting they would look after their health and that of their families, now need to know who they have actually elected.

So where is the PNG Opposition? This is a classic case of an important issue that refuses to be publically debated. The question must surely be asked, why?

Belden Namah has apparently been too busy looking after his own point-scoring with the PM to look at the best lever he has been presented with to use against the government. C’mon Sam Basil and those in the ‘Opposition’. Now is the time to draw a line in the sand.

Otherwise it’s a matter of waiting for a 'bolt from the blue', or perhaps the Ombudsman might get up enough courage, to stop the rot.

The problem does not stop with the Almighty but with those who have been previously either too intimidated or too corrupt to stop this scenario from being foisted on their own people.

Husat inap lo sanap na stretim displa aswa?


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Corney Korokan Alone

Mr. Paulus Ripa,
Enjoyed reading your enlivened commentary. Insightful.Thanks.

Mrs Barbara Short

Thank you, Paulus. I realised back in about 2009 when Tiensten awarded the Keravat NHS renovation contract to Eremas Wartoto under a Certificate of Inexpediency how the "fiddle" worked.

Eremas never completed the work, nor had the expertise to do it, as was beautifully exposed on the Four Corners program Preying on Paradise, when the Principal at that time, Mrs Lilian Ahai stood up for the truth despite the threats from Wartoto.

Over the past few years I have heard about the same scam happening over and over again in many different parts of PNG with different local members of parliament able to give the contracts to their mates and get a commission on the side.

This time I have heard from people with inside information who know what happened and know that millions have gone to political parties and politicians.

What a spineless Tenders Board!

But now we have a "life and death" situation and if the doctors are willing to stand up to the politicians and demand top quality drugs that will set a precedent which hopefully will help to bring about an end to this sort of corruption.

I do live in hope.

Paulus Ripa

Barbara and Paul,

Thank you for your continuing interest in this debacle. There is widespread discontent and unhappiness amongst the doctors and this is being exhibited on Facebook. The younger doctors have found their voice in the social media and are calling on the leaders of their union to do something.

There is a public forum planned by the anti-corruption groups at the medical school next week and the public are invited.

Whilst the minister and the government are playing their usual game of waiting it out I do not think this issue will go away easily. Such a blatant misuse of power is so gross.

As to the Tenders Board, a couple of years ago we received funding to build a complex of flats for our school staff (UPNG Medical School).

The contract was awarded to Wari Vele, despite not being on the shortlist. A year later the work was abandoned with only a pile of bricks to show for it. I think only a million out of about K5 million kina was left.

Thankfully another lot of funding came from National Planning and the tender was awarded to a Chinese company who have worked very hard to finish one month ahead of schedule (will be ready for habitation in two weeks).

Nothing was done about Wari Vele who is alleged to have used the funds in the last election (unsuccessfully) against Powes Parkop.

I would therefore not put any faith in what the Tenders Board does; they are just a bunch of people who seem to receive payments under the table.

Mrs Barbara Short

From Priscilla, a young mother, on Facebook -
Really Mr. Malabag? How will the NDOH test these drugs anyway? When they dont even have enough money to renovate hospitals and purchase vital hospital equipments?

Mrs Barbara Short

From Minister Malabag in the Post Courier -

Papua New Guinea takes seriously into account international standards such as ISO requirements in assessing manufacturers of drugs.(THIS IS NOT SO. BORNEO PP DO NOT HAVE ISO RATING.)

Health Minister Michael Malabag said this in the hope of ending the medical kit supply contract saga.
Mr Malabag said it was irritating when the same old arguments were used to mislead the people of PNG by those with vested interest.
He was responding to the latest statement by the Transparency International (PNG) on awarding ther contract to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals.(IN WHAT WAY DO TIPNG HAVE A VESTED INTEREST?)

"The National Department of Health is satisfied that the technical evaluations are assessed thoroughly by technical experts and I am confident that they evaluated the bids based on technical specifications,’’ Mr Malabag said. (YET PEOPLE WITH INSIDE INFORMATION ARE PROTESTING ON FACEBOOK THAT THEY KNOW THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SUPPOSED TO DO THE EVALUATIONS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH WERE JUST TOLD TO DO AS THE MINISTER SAID..THE TECHNICAL EXPERTS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THEIR WORK. THEY NEED TO HEAR FORM THESE PEOPLE AT THE RALLY IN FEBRUARY)

"The Health Department has a moral and legal responsibility and is serious in addressing the issue of safety, efficiency, good quality, affordability and rationale use of drugs for the citizens through the National Health Service Standards, National Medicines policy and the Medicines and Cosmetics Act and its Regulations.
"Our drug registration process regulates the registration of good quality and efficacious drugs in the country. We have pharmaceutical inspectors now appointed by the Pharmacy Board of PNG under the Medicines and Cosmetics Act to regularly inspect registered pharmaceutical establishments for compliance.
"As the gate-keeper of these medicines, we cannot and will not compromise this very important responsibility.

"Papua New Guineans must be assured that the Department of Health will test these medicines when they come into the country to make sure that they are not fake drugs as alleged. (SEE PREVIOUS COMMENT - NO MONEY AVAILABLE TO DO THIS)

"Where medicines do not meet our requirements, these medicines will be sent back and will be replaced, or contracts will be terminated."
He said the contract was part of the reforms undertaken by the Health Department that was on-going and would continue this year.

Mr Malabag said important guiding documents were reviewed and developed in 2013, including the National Medicines Policy.
"These documents outline expectations, standards to meet quality as well as operational guidelines to carefully guide implementation."
He said reforms in medical supplies procurement had also seen the streamlining of the six area medical stores (AMS) to three and considerations were being made for the rehabilitation of the Rabaul AMS, which brings to a total of four regional AMS for the country.
"Under the reform plan, all provinces will now have provincial transit medical stores (PTMS). Building of the PTMS is 75 per cent complete and hopefully completed by the end of this year."
Posted on the 24th of January 2014 (THIS IS GETTING OFF THE TOPIC.)

Mrs Barbara Short

From Lowi Bob on Facebook -

Like I said earlier, everyone involved received "kickbacks", in cash and project distribution allocation, which, by the way, as we speak, was not put out on public tender, as "Charles Kendall did for earlier health kit procurement', but given out only to those within their own circle, and others.

Just ask the guys in NDoH (HQ Staff), starting with their in-house "auditor", and they'll tell you personnel at NDoH and their cronies are the great beneficiaries.....

Mrs Barbara Short

Jeff Febi has just commented on Facebook re the letter written to the Prime Minister re BPP -
"Barbara, the PM won't respond. This is a gift for his friends. The deal is done. The only things PNGeans could do now is to dig graves and wait for our time to come."

But Paul Oates has reminded me to never give up! I must remind Jeff.

Dr Harry Poka

The doctors are totally against the awarding of the contract to Borneo. The NDA President Dr James Naipao has written a letter to the Prime Minister regarding this issue. The PM has not responded to the letter to date.

Paul Oates

Thank you Dr Poka for your response and information.

If this were merely a dispute between two Melanesian factions as no doubt some would like to suggest, it might be possible to have an assimilation of ideas and a compromise worked out at a round table. Perhaps that solution may yet be possible as it would allow all sides not to lose face (and money of course).

Leaving aside the merits of those involved and their points of view, it seems the baseline issue must be about the accepted standard of pharmaceuticals to be purchased and guaranteed to be delivered at the kunai roots to help ill or dying PNG people. One can only wonder how those PNG Doctors who have taken the Hippocratic oath can assuage their conscience if they allow the current scenario to be foisted on their own PNG people.

If money is the only motivational impasse that must be overcome then perhaps those involved in insisting BPP be awarded the contract could be persuaded to also insist that only those drugs that meet ISO 9001 be purchased and distributed. That is the ultimate issue isn’t it? If BPP won’t or can’t meet this condition then one has to ask why not?

If the Medical Board as the official watch dog of the PNG people has been compromised then what chance is there that there will be a satisfactory outcome?

I can’t but wonder how any PNGian with integrity can stand by and allow this to happen. If their own extended family members become ill or actually die due to poor or ineffective medical treatment, no amount of money or gain can surely be worth it?

Unless those reputable PNG doctors who feel this issue is too important to be allowed to happen unite and speak out, who else can or will do so? Perhaps those who are currently sitting on the fence should be reminded of the Oath they took when they became doctors?

In case some have forgotten, here is some of the wording of the Hippocratic Oath that that all doctors take when they join their professional fraternity:

‘I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.
I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; …….
But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.’

Dr Harry Poka

Paul - This is Dr James Naipao's email - [email protected].

Regarding the BPP issue, the only arm of Medical Society of PNG that will be able to investigate and further substantiate such issues is the Medical Board.

The unusual thing is that the Health Minister has appointed Dr Osborn Liko as Chairman when he does not have the right to do so!

The current president of the Medical Society, Prof Nakapi Tefuarani, should have been automatically the Chairman of the Medical Board. Prof Tefuarani has strongly condemned the awarding of the contract to BPP but the Medical Board Chairman is not doing anything to support Prof Tefuarani.

It is common knowledge in the medical fraternity that Dr Osborne Liko is a very close associate of Dr Mathias Sapuri (former chairman of the Medical Board) who also is a close associate of former health secretary Dr. Nicholas Mann who in turn has strong links with Borneo. Something fishy is definitely brewing.

Paul Oates

The thought occurred to me as I tossed and turned last night that Dr Dahlberg in his recent comment was spot on. It's really up to the PNG Doctors to unite and speak out against this drug tender business. If the Minister faces a united medical fraternity revolt, would he still push this travesty through?

Is there a way of mobilising PNG doctors? What might happen if they refuse to use BPP drugs?

It's clear that the Minister is now getting worried. He's calling in allies on Facebook to help justify the decision. The claim that PNG can now do the testing is clearly a 'furfy'. What guarantees are there this testing will be done effectively? Yet to publically question this concept will raise the 'foreign' interference claims.

PNG doctors have already spoken out but as yet, haven't threatened direct action. These doctors now need to unite and refuse to use the BPP products over doubts as to their effectiveness as the drugs don't meet ISO 9001.

Does anyone know who would be the best people to contact in PNG and contact them with this suggestion?

Clearly arguments about the extra costs are falling on deaf ears. If it's government money, no one seems to to be able to relate that to their own hip pockets. Suggestions like 'give BPP a go' are just designed to muddy the waters. Without actual deaths and illness statistics which will never be collected due to the PNG rural scene and the DoH being responsible to the minister who made the decision along with the NEC.

Isn't Deveni's brother a minister and a doctor? If so, what does he say?

PS, Does anyone know Dr James Naipao's e mail address?

Mrs Barbara Short

A few hours ago Mr Malabag, the Minister for Health, mentioned on his Facebook site that he was still happy to let Borneo PP have the contract. He is pinning all his faith on two detecting machines which they will have at the Department of Health to test the madicines.
Pity about the fact that we have heard that things of this nature have not been taking place at the department of health due to lack of funds.

We know Mr Malabag has a lot of support in PNG e.g. a comment from our friends at Cuma Png "You have a heavy responsibility Micheal, especially when so many of us respect you as a person and trust you to make decisions that will not harm us. We can only hope that you will put the lives and wellbeing of 7 million people first. Wishing you and the family well for 2014."

Paul Barker mentions - but it's not really a question of donor nations pushing their weight about, but ensuring that the lives of Papua New Guineans are safeguarded...and we already have reports from the Goethe Institute and other sources showing the high levels of (by implication dangerous or useless) counterfeit drugs prevalent within PNG, and reports that this company (Borneo) has procured its supplies from one of the most notorious providers of counterfeit drugs in China, and there's strong concerns being expressed by many PNG medical professionals, so understandably there's a high level of public concern (apart from suggestions that the contract was excessively priced)...and with known high levels of corruption in parts of the public sector in PNG (and in a recent business survey the Supply and Tenders Board was highlighted as one of the worst perceived entities for malpractice) the assurance that the Health Dept will be checking is not really adequately I'd politely suggest, Minister, that you take it upon yourself to obtain much more detail of the companies involved, their suppliers and supplies (including accreditation etc) to be available to the medical professionals and public....many would be concerned that the leadership would be using private and overseas medical services, whilst ordinary people must be dependent upon these potentially questionable public much more needs to be done to provide reassurance.

Goini Lydia Loko said to Malabag - Minister firstly belated Happy New Year to you and family. Our health is in your hands and we pray that whatever decision you make takes into account the seriousness of the quality of the medicine that could be matters of life and death... God bless!

Robert Darragh commented - Michael it's been said in various circles that you are the fly in the ointment in this deadly saga that's being played out(so to speak) the PNG Doctors are not stupid so they speak out about their concerns about what is going on and why shouldn't the donour of supporting monies want to oversee that their money is being spent wisely on the best medicine available on the market for the very people they are trying to support,the average PNG battler,not dodgy medicines from dodgy suppliers, the Australian goverment is not stupid they know what is going on

Natascious Natasha commented - Talk about Borneo. Feel sorry for putting PNGans lives at risk... Please remove that company. Don't you feel it in your moral conscious that you are at risk of killing your own people thru the administering of fake drugs? Please don't be offended by my comment but as health Minister you are responsible for PNGans health. This is a serious issue don't just overlook it. We are not blind and ignorant enough to dismiss the issue. Thanks

Eileen Parker wrote - From reading all the comments, it is true, there is an enormous production of duplication in medication and this why Australia investigates before the medication is displayed on the shelves for sale.

The people of PNG's lives are in your hands for the decision to choose the right medication to be provided for each sickness. Please take time before making a drastic decision, the PNG people have always suffered emotional and mentally because of lack of medical equipment and medication to be provided to bring back hope and the smile on the faces to know that the sick person is in capable hands of intelligent doctors that will do all possible to save PNG lives.

Team work is very important, it brings the best in each individual to make right choices. Please take note of the weeping, screaming and mourning of each PNG individual, who is begging for medication to get better and get back on their feet to continue living life.

Janet Roland Sios wrote - Hon. Minister with due respect we strongly feel that Borneo is not a credible player in the market. I know the guy. He came here into png with nothing and now is multi millionaire owners of properties in port Moresby.

We know he has paid people to get health supply contracts in the past. Also other companies.

You need to have a fresh approach an informed one and make some credible decisions. Its about lives here so please consider all feedback and do something.

What about cpl? Why choose Borneo? Why can't you encourage local participation in such business? We trust you will reconsider and stop this contract. Something is not right.

Janet Roland Sios also wrote - Oh by the way proud of you my good minister for allowing our views to be expressed here. Freedom of speech at its best. We need more dialogue discussions on issues Affecting us.hope it impacts you on your decision making too. God bless you.

As Facebook is a Public Forum open to all on the Worldwide Web, I hope these people, some of whom I know, won't mind their comments added to PNG Attitude's discussion.

The good part about all of this discussion is that the Minister for Health, Michael Malabag, is obviously a well-liked and respected person and these people are speaking to him in a respectful way and trying to help him to understand what is a complex issue.

But it is also an issue that concerns the health and lives of the people of PNG. So I'm sure he will be hounded until he gets it right.

Paul Oates

Thanks Keith Dahlberg. You're absolutely right. PNG doctors have been the ones trying to bring sanity to this whole sorry affair for some time.

Why isn't their government and community leaders listening and heeding their advice?

Keith Dahlberg MD

The issue is not 'Who is or is not corrupt?' or 'Is the company a local PNG enterprise?', but 'is the medicine what the label says it is, and does it actually work?'

Don't ask the Prime Minister; or the local Chamber of Commerce. Ideally, you ask the doctors who use the medicines day after day. Or, if it is a new or unfamiliar medicine, you check the past performance of each manufacturer. In the present case, Borneo Pacific, as the the supplier, should be held responsible for certifying that each of its manufacturers is properly accredited.

When I was running a solo hospital in rural Southeast Asia, ordering the medicines my patients' lives depended upon, I checked out the individual companies' price lists every year, choosing medicines approved by the British Pharmacopoeia, or the US Food & Drug Administration.

I suppose Australia has a similar bureau, or that the international ISO9001 accreditation certificate suffices nowadays. There are a lot of good medicine manufacturers in China, India, Japan, etc. but there were, and still are, a lot of fake drugs on the market too, and that is why an accreditation certificate is not "just a piece of paper."

I spent some time studying the Borneo Pacific official website this week and I have to say I was not reassured. Managed by three people with the same surname, with no statement of their training, professional degrees, or expertise; no prices or listing of active ingredients of the medicines they supply; only photographs of sets of medicines and medical supplies, produced in a dozen or more countries. All the other enterprises the three Pohs list on the website are irrelevant to anything but the impression that their focus is not on the safety of their medical wares.

Why am I concerned in PNG's business? Only to suggest that many are asking the wrong questions of the wrong people. Instead, ask the doctors out in the districts, or those in the hospitals and medical schools, who have to depend on the medicines that Borneo Pacific imports from China and elsewhere : Not 'are the medicines locally sponsored?' but 'are they safe and effective?'

Paul Oates

Barbara, how can one be sure these Facebook comments are genuine?

Did we know about asbestos years ago when the damage was being done to people?

We do however know of the potential to harm people poor quality drugs have.

Mr Malabag is making comments that sound very similar to those of Mr Malandina who said that pumping mining effluent into the sea in prime fishing areas would merely 'hurt a few worms'.

Who was it that said: "The bigger the lie, the more people believe it?"

In the meantime, the same disadvantaged people cry out for justice and an end to corruption. Those that are profiting from these situations must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Mrs Barbara Short

I just wrote this on the Facebook page where they are discussing this problem -
I notice that one of Malabag's friends has written to support him. I notice that on this person's Facebook site Mr Malabag is sending thankful comments.

I notice many of Mr Malabag's friends admire him very highly - almost to a position of worship. This can be dangerous.

The Post Courier should run some articles on those medicines that were given to women to stop early morning sickness during pregnancy. They had not been properly tested.

Women took their tablets and their children were born without arms. I even know of at least one case in PNG but in this case the child was born with a deformed hand.

I also know of some faulty tablets that were given to the girls studying at UPNG in the 1970s which caused them to later die of cancer. I could name names.

This sort of problem has happened in PNG before just as it happened in Australia. But this time Australia is warning you.

We have learnt a lot over the past 40 years. It is best to stick to the tablets which are going to do you some good.

I myself am battling cancer and have had to go on chemotheraphy and I was allergic to one of the drugs. The modern world of medicine is very complicated.

It is best to take advice from people who know and care about you. Hope you are listening Mr Malabag.

Mrs Barbara Short

Mr Malabag appears to have little understanding of this problem of giving the contract to BPP.

He has a lot of people who are his supporters. One could say they almost "worship" him. He is writing on their Facebook pages. They thank him profusely for what he does. He doesn't seem to be bothered about all our efforts to try to get safe medicines for the PNG people.

His followers are simple souls who have little undersatnding about the ways of the world. If Mr Malabag says give the contract to BPP then his supporters say things like " Let's give Borneo Pharmaceuticals a chance."

So it is the blind leading the blind and they also are nowhere near as clever as Blind Freddy.

I seem to remember something similar in the past in the NSW Public Service. Then there are all the people who died from asbestos poisoning, like my brother, who was building the Australian Navy vessels. So I guess we can't talk!

Paul Oates

Isn't it now about time that everyone started to think about the alternative?

The real question the Depart. of Health, the Minster and the Tenders Board etc. seems to have forgotten about is why doesn't Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals merely alter the products it supplies in order to meet the accepted international standards? Why does PNG have to compromise its standards to fit BPP?

And why are BPP products more expensive than those previously purchased pharmaceuticals that met the ISO9001 standard if it is indeed cost cutting and supplying inferior products?

Where is the extra money going one surely must ask? A simple task for any investigation. Follow the money trail.

All PNG needs is an Eliot Ness and someone to back him or her up.

Martyn Namorong

I like your observation about the parliamentary opposition. Given their wild goose chase on the Paraka puzzle it would seem strategic that they pursue this case more vigorously

Mrs Barbara Short

From Lowi Bob on Facebook.... "I learnt from pharmacists here, who have knowledge of this issues, that there's a huge cartel involving people at the Area Medical Store (which stores Government sourced medicines, etc), the Pharmaceutical Supply And Tender Board, and staff at NDoH, who collude with each other to rig the process of drug procurement and supply for PNG Health care.

That's how and why Borneo PP will continue to be the preferred tender!

I am working on putting a submission to the Health Minister and ICCC (which has powers to review industries and recommend improvements ), with the help of my contact pharmacist and Treasury officials for a review of the health industry.

If anyone has any concrete information you can email it in confidence to give a strong argument in my submission. Its worth a try.

We need a drastic change, it can only come about if the entire industry structure is reviewed and fixed."

Good Luck! Lowi Bob. Thank you for trying to solve this problem.

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