PNG PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM IN DISARRAY

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Oct. 30) - Revelations of the heavy reliance of Papua New Guinea on foreign donors for the funding of the nation's public health system should be a real concern to all political leaders of this country -- regardless of where they sit in the National Parliament.

It is not an issue that anyone should take advantage of to score political points against the Government or the Minister for Health. The issue is far more serious and deserves a responsible approach to how best to deal with it in the best interests of the people of Papua New Guinea -- especially women and children.

Health is the number one issue for PNG. It is the most critical issue facing the nation and deserves to be dealt with in a way that ensures this nation takes control of the funding of its public health system. Donor support is important and is welcome. But it cannot be the substitute for the funding responsibility of the Government of the day.

The Government needs ensure that when it comes to funding the public health system of PNG, this country is able to stand on its own two feet before it asks donors to help.

It is the responsibility of any national government to fund its own health system. It cannot offload that responsibility on to the governments of other countries. The issues raised by the new Secretary for Health Dr. Clement Malau are serious and deserve to be addressed in a serious way by the Government.

The issue of poor accountability and lack of transparency in the public health system is a concern that must be faced up to.

Issues concerning high maternal and child mortality also need to be dealt with. We cannot go on for ever having high numbers of mothers and children dying at childbirth. That is a problem that belongs to the last century, not in the 21st century which is supposed to see a much better health care system in countries like PNG. Unfortunately PNG still has a long way to go in addressing its health situation. It is a serious matter and one that cannot be simply swept aside. It must be tackled now.

The health of the nation and its people must be the number one priority of the Government of the day. It cannot have an educated and hard working population without first ensuring they are in a healthy state.

That is why we say that the while the Government is concentrating on improving the economy; it must ensure that the public health system of PNG is given the highest priority it deserves.

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