Bringing Health Service To The Rural Areas: The Goroka Hospital Initiative.

This week two good stories appeared in the Post Courier about the delivery of health services.

First one is the inititiative by Goroka base hospital to rotate doctors to the rural health centres on a monthly basis. This will ensure a medical officer regularly visits health centres and aid posts and provide training for community health workers or health extension officers working in rural areas. This health outreach program was started in 2005. The visits will be made by general medical officers as well as specialists.  

The move by Gorok hospital to take the lead in bringing a doctor to the rual areas will also prevent people from the rural areas flocking to the main hospital which is based in Goroka. The rural people now know that there will be regular visits by a doctor so they do not have to travel long distances to get to the base hospital in Goroka. The general medical officers will see patients and refer those that need further assessment to the main hospital.

The second story is in relation to the urban clinics in the major towns in PNG. The urban clinics in Port Moresby are closed most of the time. This is due to continuous vandalism and lack of essential drugs, consumables and unpaid  bills. The health department therefore has decided to let the Churches take over the running of some of these urban clinics. The churches in PNG are the backbone of delivering health and education services to the rural people and this is a move in the right direction. Again this is shows the leadership and insight of Sir Peter Barter.

Both are a very positive stories about health in PNG and it would be great to see more hospitals follow in the footsteps of Goroka base hospital.


About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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2 Responses to Bringing Health Service To The Rural Areas: The Goroka Hospital Initiative.

  1. Emmanuel says:

    About time…great to see Doctors relooking at how they provide their services. And what are your thoughts on the importation of medical drugs by organisations other than the government?

  2. rodney itaki says:

    Thanks for asking. That’s a tricky issue. Especially in PNG where drug quality and assurance tests are not done to make sure that the drugs imported are not fake.

    Sometimes the drugs imported privately are cheap because the drugs do not contain the right concentration. Eg. arthmether, the chinese antimalarial drug – the proper manufacturer produces a tablet that has 50mg of the active drug but a imposter can manufacture the drug with a tablet that has 25mg but says 50mg on the lable. Since PNG does not have a proper body to test the quality of the important drugs, the danger is that diseases will be undertreated and more likely increase the risk resistance to that drug.

    On the other hand, there are better drugs to treat common infections like pneumonia or medicine for high blood pressure. These drugs are very expensive and the government can only get a few of those because of the costs. Private pharmaceutical companies importing such drugs are helping the government by provinding such drugs which the government can not afford.

    What I think is PNG needs a national drug policy dealing with importation, sale and pescription. I am sure there are documents on these things but as far as I know there is no proper body to implement these policies or laws on drug importations, retailing and pescrition. All these functions are done by the health department.

    I think some of the functions need to be transfered to legals bodies like PNG Medica Board or organisations like PNG Medical Society, PNG Pharmaceutical Society and the like. Eg UPNG, Unitech or PNGIMR can do the quality assuracne tests for the health department. The technical know how and the knowledge is already there. All it needs a little improvment of the infrastructure and a regular budget for the tests.

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