PNG DOCTORS DESERVE BETTER TREATMENT

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Jan. 3) – The protest by doctors raises serious issues about the performance of the departments of Health and Personnel Management.

The issues they are protesting about are issues which do not need to take so long to fix.

Matters such as paying rentals for doctors’ accommodation are normal housekeeping matters which are supposed to be done regularly without waiting for strike action. Funds are available through the normal Health Department budget for this purpose, so why is it that this has not been happening?

On the issue of positions, the Health Department and the Department of Personnel Management should be blamed for failing to ensure all public health doctors — including specialist medical officers — are on confirmed positions.

This country has been losing a lot of very highly qualified doctors to either private practice or overseas hospitals because of inefficiency at the highest bureaucratic levels of the Department of Health and Department of Personnel Management.

The country is very short of doctors and everything possible must be done to keep the few that are still in the public health system.

It means high ranking public servants coming down from their ivory tower and dealing with these issues so that we do not lose anymore doctors.

No hospital in PNG is operating at full strength and the Government is fully aware of this fact.

Yet, the Department of Health and Personnel Management are simply dragging their feet over issues of concern to doctors.

The Government needs to seriously address the issue of staff ceiling for all hospitals and health centres to ensure we have full compliment of doctors and specialists in our hospitals as well as doctors in health centres.

That should have been the number one priority of the government in trying to address the issue of the nation’s health.

Then there is the issue of housing for the doctors. We want doctors working in hospitals attending to the sick, not chasing payment for rentals that should have been paid automatically by the Department of Health.

It is ridiculous that after so many years, doctors are still chasing rentals for their accommodation.

This is one issue we sincerely hope the new Secretary for Health, Doctor Clement Malau will address as one of his first priorities.

We hope Dr Malau will also look into the issue of doctor positions for hospitals and health centres throughout the country.

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