NOOSA – Oro Governor Gary Juffa has blasted companies that have abused medical contracts and continued these practices probably conspiring with corrupt public servants to do so.
Speaking in his capacity as chairman of Papua New Guinea’s Special Parliamentary Committee on Public Sector Reforms, Juffa said he was dismayed that the government had renewed a health department contract with a private company that was providing sub-standard medical equipment and drugs.
He did not name the company but Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals has previously been alleged to be "the beneficiary of lavish spending by the Department of Health, organised through flawed tender processes".
The investigative website PNGi said "a 2011 article published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences reported that all samples of NCPG [Borneo Pacific's largest provider of drugs] medicines supplied to Papua New Guinea were substandard, and one was ‘possibly counterfeit’."
In December 2013 Australia withdrew funding for a $38 million program supplying medicine to PNG health centres because of concerns about the way PNG awarded contracts.
In 2015, hospital supervisors complained to the committee now chaired by Juffa ‘that drugs being supplied by Borneo Pacific were often of poor quality as were medical supplies. IV drips were substandard as were blood transfusion sets’.
Juffa said that again in September 2020 a company had been exposed by the Public Accounts Committee for serious flaws in the quality of drugs it supplied and for other anomalies not since rectified.
“I am gravely concerned that since the much advertised PAC inquiry and the report tabled by the chairman [John Pundari, now Finance Minister], nothing has been done to design a more transparent procurement system and engage reputable companies that could procure and supply quality drugs.
“Meanwhile the logistics of delivery of drugs, medicines, consumables and other medical equipment is still atrocious.
“This was also exposed as being substandard and indeed procurements then were shown to be under dubious circumstances,” Juffa said.
Juffa said nothing had improved since the Public Accounts Committee revelations.
“In fact, the same companies are involved and they are not delivering the drugs to the doorsteps of aid posts and health centres and hospitals as required and paid for.
“The public servants involved, who acted negligently, incompetently and possibly corruptly, have not been taken to task.”
Juffa said the people of PNG deserve the best health care.
“The current health care is not delivering to the expectations of the people. It is actually in a terrible state and needs to be overhauled.”
He said the new health secretary must take decisive action and needs to be supported by the minister to build a health care system that works effectively.
Juffa said immediately upon taking office the prime minister had put the health department on notice to act swiftly to improve healthcare in PNG.
He urged the Marape government to consider the reform committee’s proposal to significantly improve procurement and delivery of drugs, medical equipment and consumables to aid posts, health centres and hospitals throughout PNG.