“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.