The Health Minister Michael Malabag says the sector was allocated a huge amount of money in the 2013 budget and he wants it to be used for the intended purposes, like drugs and rehabilitation of facilities.
So far the managers of the Wewak and Kimbe hospitals have been suspended over alleged financial mismanagement, and five other face suspension over similar allegations.
Presenter: Firmin Nanol
Speaker: Michael Malabag, PNG's Health Minister
MALABAG: We have started off with the Western Province, especially Daru. The CEO there has already been suspended and the replacement has already been in there already. There have been a lot of related issues in particular to the administration of the hospital, so we have made an internal investigation, which have been substantiated as a result this year was replaced in the Western Province. Now similar to that I've also taken similar action in the other six provinces. As you know in the West New Britain Province the CEO ... yesterday to suspend the CEOs for West New Britain and in East Sepik Borom hospital, that's been done. There are investigations underway for another four, especially in Oro, Engal, Manus and Madang …, and that will be done shortly. I did want to give a clear signal to especially the management of public hospitals throughout the country, there's a new government in place right now, the government in the 2000 budget allocation has put in a lot of resources back into the health sector. It's now a question of prudent management, and I need very strong-willed administrators in there to make sure that the funds are expended properly and that our people see services coming from the government at the end of the day. And this is where I've been keeping a very tight scrutiny over how public hospitals have been managed throughout the country, and where action is needed, I will take appropriate action and that's been done.
NANOL: Minister what are some of those allegations in relation to, what did they do or what were they supposed to do in delivering health services but they didn't do that prompted you to suspend them?
MALABAG: Well put it this way, it's all related to prudent management. You talk about funds misuse, we talk about worker related problems, and you talk about other various issues really relating purely to management. There are a lot of related problems, especially on the maintenance of hospitals and how relevant funds have not been used in a proper manner. And so the list continues yes, but basically look, I just wanted to tell our people that go into the hospitals seeking treatment are being treated properly, fairly and they have all the basics there in the hospitals so they come out happy at the end of the day, and then they see that government services have been provided.
NANOL: Minister in a nutshell, what is the reason you are doing this and what is the intended outcome of those actions you're taking as the minister in suspending those under-performing or non-performing managers of these hospitals?
MALABAG: Look the real reason is this and I will tell you, it's the year of implementation, the budget is there, we need qualified managers in there to ensure that services are provided in the manner that the government desires. And as the minister responsible I'm taking a more or less hardline approach to send signals to the rest of the public hospitals throughout Papua New Guinea, that the government requires them to ensure that prudent management is carried out, and at the end of the day government policies, especially in the health sector, are carried out efficiently, diligently, and that the desired outcomes are reached. And unfortunately some, especially hospital boards are not functioning in the manner that is required. And as a result boards that are not serious, are not complying with directives, and in the manner in which public institutions should be managed. And those are the signals that I want to send out, and those who don't perform, it's purely performance based, if they're not performing, I'll take appropriate action.
NANOL: Investigations are underway or you're sending investigators to investigate those … parties of mismanagement and misuse of funds intended for improvement of basic healthcare and services and rehabilitation of hospitals in those provinces?
MALABAG: Three have completed, four are in the process of investigations taking place. We will also be sending the secretary and a few other people down to those provinces that … of our care, so that we put the right mechanisms in place to ensure that there's no repetition of what has happened, and let's get back to the basics of trying to manage the hospitals in the manner required. But we will take corrective actions.