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Preventable disease is close to being out of control in PNG

A PNG youth with TB
Mother with her seriously ill (with tuberculosis) son


“About 20 years ago I was the chief executive of a large regional hospital at Mount Gambier in South Australia. At that time, two of my colleagues left SA Health and took up appointments as advisers to the Lae and Mount Hagen hospitals” – Chris Overland, PNG Attitude, 13 February 2018

MOUNT HAGEN - I suspect I am one of the advisers to whom Chris refers and I am still in Papua New Guinea, no longer as an adviser but working in a province in the health system.

The health system is in disarray and there is widespread corruption particularly in the procurement and distribution of drugs.

Budgets have been cut, although, through smoke and mirrors, it appears they have increased.

And, while per capita funding is reasonable for a developing economy, the way the funds are spent, particularly by the National Department of Health, means that not much flows to where it is needed.

Chris Overland is right in saying it is a disgrace and there is little prospect of change. The corruption is far too endemic.

In fact, many people working here say that there are two countries - Port Moresby, as flash as any major capital city, and PNG, where preventable disease is close to being out of control.

Funding cuts by both the PNG government and donors have seen a dramatic rise in the number of cases of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, including multiple drug resistant tuberculosis (MDRTB).

Hospitals do whatever they can to support their clinicians, who often have to work without the basic drugs and consumables they need.

I wish I had the answers to how the health system can be fixed, but the best I can do is assist in making sure care is available to those who need it.


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Bernard Corden

Men of power have no time to read, yet men who do not read are unfit for power- Michael Foot

William Dunlop

Bernard, How about War & Peace, or yet Jame's Joyce's Ulysses.

Barnaby Joyce may have been indulging in the latter last night.

Bernard Corden

May I suggest JK Domyai read In Place of Fear by Aneurin Bevan:,%20A%20Free%20Health%20Service11-21215.pdf

JK Domyal

Enough facts and figures on PNG health situations have been written on the corridors of PNG parliament walls and floors, the plight of babies and children dying literally at the door steps of rural aid posts; labour mothers and unwanted pregnancies ending innocent lives at hospitals beds....

All because of no doctors or proper medical drugs and consumables are mind boggling in PNG.

This is the fact of the matter in the rich island of gold and logs floating on oil, breathing in dense gas and infested with school of tuna.

While government after government, budgets after budgets politicians boasted about six digits budget figure going into health system or putting a policy buffer of ‘free health care’ across the country, nothing really much worth in the face of health.

It’s about time people should start looking back 40 years up the road and explain what had went wrong to see and do the right things.

Today is never 1975 or 1980s or 1990s, PNG should be worse off than the past. Why should that be? (i) In fact PNG population has increased dramatically, (ii) cost of goods and services has increased, (iii) annual budget for health is not proportionate to the population needing health services across the urban and rural PNG, (iv) systematic and systemic corruption in the procurement and distribution of medical supplies and the list goes on......

We the people should not look up to government and politicians all the times; let us use our efforts to afford basic health care services at our own cost, its one way to help save our own lives.

Garry Roche

David, as you and I know, there are very many hard-working and committed staff in the Hospital and Provincial Health. The problem often is not with the staff on the front line, but the system of procuring drugs etc. I wish you all the best in your work in WHP.

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