“Health is a sector where good planning is vital. We need to plan ahead for our health infrastructure as well for our health workers, medicines and health training” The statement was issued after receiving the New Ireland Provincial Health Plan at a meeting with the Provincial Health Authority in Kavieng last week by the Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance Ian Ling-Stuckey.

“Unfortunately, the level of planning for the health sector in the recent medium-term plan – MTDP III – is absolutely deplorable. Indeed, the national government should be ashamed at the errors, assumptions and incompleteness of the document. The health plan would fail the exams our Year 12 students are being asked to sit this week” said Mr  Ling-Stuckey.

“There are very many embarrassing errors in even the short health section in the 2018-2022 Medium-Term Development Plan.  Let me provide a few examples. First, the plan claims its very first deliverable will be “174 Community Health Posts Established”. There will be 8 new ones in 2018, and 10 for each of the years 2019 to 2022. But any mathematician would say – “Hey, that only adds up to 48 Community Health Posts, not the 174 claimed by the PNC Government. Indeed, it is less than one-third the level promised by the government in the same row of the plan. Fail!”

“The plan sets its fourth health deliverable as an increase in the total health workforce from 10,000 in 2018 to 37,500 in 2022. Come on – how can the over-stretched and underfunded health teaching facilities aim to nearly quadruple the entire health workforce in only another four years? And of course, in addition to presumably needing more hospitable beds and nurses houses for this extraordinary increase in staffing, there would also need to be a massive increase in salaries for health workers shown in the 2019 Budget Strategy. But it is not there. We know how well this government is already paying teacher’s salaries, so you could imagine how badly it would fail to pay four times as many health workers.

“Continuing this story of pipe-dreams without adequate operational budgets, the health plan claims the number of physicians per 100,000 people will increase from 5 to 50. So that is over ten times as many doctors in only 5 years. Indeed, after allowing for population increases over the five years, this would require 12 doctors for every single doctor currently. Can someone please explain to the PNC government that It takes a long time to train doctors-like more than 5 years! Once again,a planning failure.

“19 Provincial Hospitals are to be upgraded and redeveloped, along with 4 Regional referral hospitals and 1 specialist referral hospital. This is all planned to occur in 2018.  I’m sure everyone has seen their Hospital upgraded this year-like what? And then there will be no upgrades over the next four years. Once again, the Alternative Government thinks it’s a good objective, but the implementation details simply reveal another planning failure” stated the Shadow Treasurer.

“At the highest level, it is good that the 2018-22 Medium-Term Development Plan lifted the share of the capital budget going to health from 7% to 9%. However, the former government’s health plan aimed for health expenditure to increase to 20% of the development budget. The PNC plan still falls well short of what is actually required.

“The health plan also indicates how political spin is dominating the facts. This is unfortunate, as a good plan has to live with the facts and then determine in practical steps how things can be improved. Instead, the government misses that its own evaluation is extremely critical of how things have gone over the last decade. Then it claims these poor outcomes are actually good outcomes, and are due to the government’s fake “free health policy”. Specifically, Table 2.1 indicates that the Infant Mortality Rate target was 43 per 1,000 live births in 2015 but the actual outcomes was 50. The report sates “Target not achieved, infant mortality rate well over”. The second health indicator was the Maternal Mortality Rate where the target was over-achieved, but this was probably because the baseline of 7.33 maternal deaths per 1,000 live births shown in the 2011-2020 Health Plan is now widely regarded as an over-estimate. So at best there was a mixed story. And of course, we know the more recent story of the embarrassing outbreak of polio and rising cases of malaria and TB. So what does the government say about this very mixed story about the health sector’s performance? On page 9 of its report the PNC claims “The improvements in the indicators can be attributed to Government’s ‘free’ health care policy in 2012”. How gullible or stupid, does this government think the people of PNG are?

“The current plan is to now drop the level of under 5 mortality from the current rate of 52 in 2016 down to only 42 by 2021 – this would be a major achievement. Then, magically, the plan assumes it will then halve to only 20 by 2022-one year later! We see this amazing advance concentrated in 2022 in several of the health indicators such as TB incidence, malaria patients, and under age one infant mortality rates – only small gains from 2018 to 2021 and then huge gains being made in 2022. Obviously because the next election is in 2022.Again, our people are treated like fools.

“There a several other very worrying elements of the plan. For example, relative to the former health plan during the period of the National Alliance Government, there were very similar health “strategies” such as improving maternal health and child survival. However, this latest plan takes out the strategy of increasing average life expectancy. Why is lifting life expectancy for the people of PNG no longer a strategy of this PNC government?” asked the Shadow Treasurer.

As I indicated, MTDP III has some good points at the high level but it totally fails on sensible implementation. Once again, the O’Neill/Abel government tries to steal the Alternative Government’s ideas but it doesn’t know how to deliver the goods. PNC is a government of rhetoric, not actual delivery” said Mr Ling-Stuckey.

Hon.Ian Ling-Stuckey,CMG.MP
Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance

 17 October  2018

 

Details

 

The extraordinary mathematic errors and actual lack of planning is demonstrated in this summary table of “deliverables from page 39 of Volume 2 of MTDP III

This table demonstrates the inability to be realistic when improvements will occur, indicating a major disconnect with accountability