“As I celebrate Christmas with my wonderful family surrounded by the beauty of Lemus Island in New Ireland Province, I reflect on the Christmas message of love, hope and sacrifice. The birth of Christ was a true gift of love to the world. So many in our community seek to live this message of love through their devotion to helping others. As I reflect on the Christmas message, I want to share some experiences during recent visits to rural health facilities in the district of Kavieng that I try and serve. Collectively, PNG’s politicians and some bureaucrats are letting down our health workers and doctors seeking to deliver Christ’s message of love” said the Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey.
“Despite all of the gifts some of us in PNG will be fortunate to receive this Christmas, I must reflect on my recent visit to the Puas Sub-Health Centre in the Lavongai LLG area last fortnight. The near empty medicine cabinets at our rural health centres. Key drugs are just not available. I asked our sister in charge and her able second in charge whether they have any anti-biotics. “No sir, they all ran out two months ago and we don’t expect any more supplies until March 2019”. I also asked whether they have any anti-malaria tablets. “ We have one and a half weeks supply then we run out completely ”. Talking to my Parliamentary colleagues, I know that this is now the usual situation in our country. How is it that we have allowed things to get this bad? How is it that we are so badly letting down our front line health services which embodies Christ’s message of love?” asked the Shadow Treasurer.
“I see correspondence lying in the sink – for it is the driest space in the clinic as the water pump has not been working! I see the bare rusted single bed in the maternity ward – one without even a mattress on the base. Giving birth in a stable in Bethlehem may have been more comfortable! This maternity ward may serve a catchment area of up to 9 wards and over 13,000 thousand people. No wonder our mothers face such high risks at child-birth – over 400 of our mothers will die in child-birth during 2019. The lack of facilities and drugs will mean that 57 out of every 1,000 children born this year will die by age 5 – the fourth worst rate of the 43 countries of the Asia-Pacific region. The lack of drugs and health services means PNG once again faces the scourge of polio, and rapidly accelerating rates of tuberculosis and malaria. PNG rates either last or second last in such health indictors across all countries in our region. This is a national shame. How is this possible after 43 years of Independence?”
“I reflect on all those who are sick on Christmas Day and who cannot get good health support. This sickness is often related to not enough investment in ensuring our people have access to clean water and adequate sanitation as PNG has the worst rates of access in the Asia-Pacific region.
“In the forty-three years since Independence, we have not done enough to live up to God’s message of making PNG a fairer society where good health services are available to all. In rural areas, all people know that the so-called “free basic health plan” is a cruel joke. The people know that their medicines have been diverted through corrupt health procurement and poor delivery. Excessively expensive Port-Moresby focused APEC meetings undermines trust in politicians. How can I travel through our rural health centres and talk of cash flow problems when my people see cash flowing so freely in Waigani?” asked the Shadow Treasurer.
“As I reflect on the Christmas message, I hope that all of us politicians and leaders will commit to serving our people better. We all know that PNG faces many challenges at the moment. There is an opportunity for change coming up shortly. May enough of our national politicians come together now in peace and friendship and do what is necessary to help ensure all our mothers and our children will have more opportunities to have a healthier Christmas in the years ahead” said Mr Ling-Stuckey.
Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance
24 December 2018