Minister giving K1.5 mill to YWAM is infuriating as health facilities face medicine shortages


As Papua New Guineans struggle with medicine shortages in nearly all  public health facilities, Youth With A Mission (YWAM) statement showing a smiling minister for health presenting a cheque of K1.5 million has enraged many Papua New Guineans.

The reason for the anger is because it is quite insulting that  the  Health Minister  moves quickly in  funding an already well funded international  organization  with taxpayers money as  the existing health system collapses  all around us.

In the long term, the YWAM program is unsustainable in PNG. Let’s face it.  They come and they go. In the downtime, the heavily burdened health system is left with the same patients and the same problems.

There are very basic  systematic problems  that need to be fixed.  Problems like  the flow of medicines from the area medical stores to the clinics and hospitals.  If there is someone stealing or abusing the process, it is the Minister’s role to commission an investigation (if the Health Secretary can’t do it) and get to the bottom of the problem.  Resolve it, for goodness sake.

While I have the greatest respect for the YWAM program, it  is a band aid solution. It looks good because politicians are “seen to be delivering services.”  It is It is a  politically cool option.

But why can’t we spend  that money to fix our systems? Why can’t we fund our own outreach programs and develop our own staff like we used to.   Make it cool to be a community health worker or a nurse who goes on regular government funded patrols.  Put them on boats like the YWAM guys and get them out there.

We have to be able to go to the National Cancer Center in Lae  when our relatives are ill.  Have you checked the price of one tooth extraction lately?   Have you checked if the dental clinics  can fill cavities?  You will be surprised how  much we have come to accept the poor state of public health services.

I’m not saying reinvent the wheel.

Papua New Guinea has a GOOD health system. It is people focused. There are staff that are committed and the medicine is provided free.  Where did we go wrong?   It’s a question best answered by those with intimate knowledge of the health system.

I say again, there is a  medicine shortage. Don’t point fingers. Just get someone in those comfortable offices to  go to Lae and other centers  and see  the problem for themselves.


2 comments on “Minister giving K1.5 mill to YWAM is infuriating as health facilities face medicine shortages

  1. Elizabeth Cox

    Could not agree more. In the East Sepik Province the Province has given millions to the Samaritan Health and the Saman balus service for medical emergencies. Samaritan should be an added bonus, good while it lasts but not sustainable in the long-term. They must not be financed as a stop-gap measure in a failing system – flying in medicines and offering prayers instead of re-building systems that maintain supplies and give the much-needed technical and moral support and supervision that rural health workers need.
    There were once 80 aidposts in Angoram District. All long gone. Health centre and sub-centre operations have been on and off and sporadic for decades. Health care has never been free in rural Sepik and even misson centres name and shame people who owe money – because they don’t receive the basic operational funds for government. Women Village Health workers have a 60 year long history – across several generations in delivering community based health care, but for the past decade they have been starved of basic supplies and invisibilised.


  2. Ian Mannix

    Congratulations to PNG’s best and most effective journalist, Scott Waide. He’s developed the ability for critical thinking, analysis and impartial, objective opinion. It is this type of thoughtful journalism that motivates people to act; to question people of influence and decision makers. This kind of journalism thrives when other journalists follow it up, also asking questions, challenging decision makers to justify their actions, and discovering how much of what Scott and Elizabeth Cox are saying is true. Momentum builds for proper examination of the facts. Journalists must now follow up with DoH; YWAM; former health workers, and DFAT and funders.journalsts who sit back and do nothing cannot be praised for their work in our wonderful industry.


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