Does Private Medical Care Have A Role in PNG?

Couple of weeks ago I had some medical students visiting where I worked. They were visiting the establishment for a day as part of their medical training. I was told the main objective of their visit was to compare the private and public medical care in PNG and form an opinion.

I thought one day was a waste of time! What can you learn in one day? In fact the visit was only for one hour!

Anyway, the students asked some very interesting questions. For example, some of the questions were?

Does private hospitals pay more?

Is there any future in private medical care in PNG?

What is the main benefit of working in a private hospital?

What about continueing professional development for those working in private care fascilities?

What kind of patients go to private clinics and hospitals?

Does people from the squater settlements in Port Moresby go to the private hospital despite the obvious higher fees?

I gave my answers. But sitting there and answering those medical students was both satisfying and raising questions in my own mind.

PNG does not have a national insurance policy for all workers. And the patients that seek private care have to cover their own costs.

Should PNG have a national insurance policy, made compulsory by law, so that all workers, either in public or private have insurance cover so that they can seek private care either in PNG or overseas? I think this will not only help the patients but also help develop the private medical care setting in PNG. The other question is: Is the time right for such a compulsory insurance cover for all workers? I think it is.


About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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5 Responses to Does Private Medical Care Have A Role in PNG?

  1. Tavurvur says:


    This is a touchy topic Rodney.

    My BIG concern about private health insurance in PNG is the cost and the effective control of that cost.

    How is the average PNG going to be able to afford compulsory health insurance?

    What will stop private health insurance companies from increasing premiums?

    We need to be frank here – Health Insurance in the Western World is run as a BUSINESS. That should not be the case in PNG.


  2. rodney itaki says:

    Absolutely agree. I saw a documentary by Michael Moore title “Sicko”. It tells the medical insurance bussiness in USA. I certainly do not want to see it happening here.

    I am of the stong opinion that the Government must still subidise health cost. If we are going to have health insurance in PNG, I think it should be controlled by the Government and not private companies. There are strong opinions against that but its there for the debate.

  3. This is exactly what Obama is trying to do in the US. Reforming the health care system or in essence cutting costs and have those 40 million some uninsured citizens insured. This is obviously creating fear among those who do not want a socialized health care or ” National Health Insurance system(Government funded system)” which all the Pacific Island Countries including all the third world countries have. While this system may not be the best for patients and ill people, I can honestly say that it is still the the only system that works for all the Pacific Island countries. Why?
    1) Easily Accessible
    2) Basic Preventive services are available regardless of ones employment status.
    3) While there maybe backlog of cases(especially surgical, O&G), cases are solely managed by a clinician therefore the urgency of the illness at hand.
    4) Everybody is covered regardless of whether or not you have pre-existing condition, rich or poor( eg insurers in US won’t even offer coverage for a past history of UTI).
    The list can go on and on, the bottom line is 80-90% of the population in the Pacific Islands simply cannot afford an insurance. This does not mean totally shunning private insurance. It should be encouraged as a supplement system for those who can afford it.

  4. ume says:

    I strong think and feel that an individual enterprise should have a workers insurance policy in place for all their employee’s very reason being that this employee’s are the turn over of the enterprises growth.
    After all the frontliner and the grass roots work so hard, yet very little concern, both in wages and health is not considered. In fact some of this employee’s go out of their way to give a good reputation of the enterprise. Serve localy time and effect yet not rewarded.
    There is a lot of hyporcy.
    ie. Foreign brought in, yet do not train local as under study. Foreigner habours theft and suspend the whistle blower even terminated. We is the justice.
    Right government deal with enterprise, enterprise take care of employee

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