Remote colonial life: Waiting for the K boat & other inconveniences
My ‘beyond Kudjeru' patrol’: The final stretch

Sir Mek says O’Neill & Temu must fix health crisis, not deny it

Peter O'Neill and Sir Puka Temu (EMTV)
Peter O'Neill and Sir Puka Temu - 'thousands of deaths on their consciences'


PORT MORESBY - Prime minister Peter O’Neill and health minister Sir Puka Temu should start listening to doctors and patients throughout the country and admit that the health system is in crisis.

Recent statements by Dr James Naipao, president of the PNG Doctors’ Association, and professor Glen Mola from the Medical School, highlight urgent and serious issues that the government is refusing to acknowledge or do anything about.

The health system is in crisis – everyone knows that – but Peter O’Neill and Puka Temu are just letting people die or suffer.

They have thousands of deaths from preventable disease, from common illnesses, from injury, on their consciences. When are they going to acknowledge the duty they have to manage the health system and fund health priorities properly?

Dr Naipao said doctors were unhappy with “the way the health department bureaucrats and the health minister were painting a pretty picture of health-related issues when the reality was completely different, and bad.

“Why are the higher hierarchy of the health department and the health minister, Sir Puka Temu, openly saying all is well in health service delivery when health workers on the ground are saying the opposite,” Dr Naipao asked.

Dr Naipao and Dr Mola point to the widespread lack of basic drugs, disease test kits and basic medical equipment and supplies.

Dr Mola estimates that up to 5,000 babies have died or been disabled since the end of 2016 when the country ran out of syphilis test kits.

He also confirms that the country has run out of HIV test kits and paediatric HIV drugs to prevent babies from contracting HIV from their mothers.

According to Dr Mola “this will not only lead to about 2,500 unnecessary infant HIV deaths per annum, but it also puts our whole population at risk” and makes the management and treatment of TB harder, given the high rate of TB/HIV co-infection.

Doctors had also reported that the health minister, the secretary and senior officers in the department were “running around like headless chooks”, because the prime minister had sent out an instruction that there be no drug stock-outs during February when the vote of no confidence period commences.

How ridiculous is this? The prime minister is only concerned about his political survival, not the welfare of people.

According to doctors, more than 100 lines of essential drugs and supplies are currently out of stock, including antibiotics, surgical gloves, sutures, fluids, and that very soon there will be a stock-out of HIV drugs as well.

The crisis in the health system, especially the medical supplies chain, underscore the wasteful expenditure by the O’Neill government on APEC, corruption in government and the breakdown of government systems and processes.

Where are all the APEC goodies promised by PM and APEC minister Tkatchenko? Where is the manna that was supposed to descend from APEC heaven?

The two-day wonder of APEC has left the country in tatters and the people of Papua New Guinea suffering.

As Professor Mola said, “Unless the government starts showing some concern for the people and providing health workers with basic supplies to prevent disease, treat their patients and also prevent health workers from getting life-threatening diseases from patients, it should not be a surprise to anybody if health workers just stop work.”


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Philip Kai Morre

Health is a basic human need like water, food, shelter and air.

When you study Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, physiological need is the basis, then you need love and belonging and safety. Then self-actualisation and affirmation.

When healthy people becomes unhealthy and sick they need medication. Psychological health is equally important as well as spiritual health.

When authorities ignore the health of their own people, they deprive us of a basic human right. Politicians are psychologically unhealthy or sick people and their thinking is not right and they have an erroneous conscience which leads to them doing things wrong.

How can a learned medical doctor who is the health minister just become another ordinary person? Did he take the Hippocratic oath to practice with due care and diligence, to care for a suffering patient? He should know better than the prime minister but is so ignorant.

Dominica Are

The more they lie. The more we die.

Philip Fitzpatrick

The ABC reports that PNG's only radio therapy machine is unusable and the government has failed to legislate so that the radio active materials to fix it can be imported. Meanwhile people are dying of cancer.

Will Self

I have said it before and I will say it again. There are three great mysteries of existence:

1. What is the meaning of life?

2. Where did we come from?

3. How does the Secretary for Health keep his job?

1. Nobody knows.

2. God knows.

3. Peter knows. - KJ

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)