Not My Free Health Care!

With the introduced Free Health Service launched by the Government in the Alotau Accord early this year (Stephen Howes NRI, 2014) and in its inception in 2010, it is sad to see that hospitals and health centers in Papua New Guinea lack proper health facilities for treating patients. Nurses in the Eastern Highlands Province (EHP) spoke about some of the issues affecting their work on the International Nurses Day on the 12th of May 2014.

Sr Sonia Korowi, Chief of Nurses at the Goroka General Hospital said the hospital caters for everyone that seeks help however, a majority of them are referral patients from the eight outstations in Eastern Highlands. The number of referrals has increased dramatically because of rural run down facilities that cannot cater for patient needs. Servicing more referrals has now become a norm for several years.


(Male officer in charge Jerry at Kesuraso treating a patient. Kesurao Health Clinic. Picture By Primrose Homiehombo.)

Reports from Eastern Highlands (Nurses Day, 2014) has shown that there is a shortage of nurses in the province. Many nurses have resigned to join mining companies and other big developing companies who have guaranteed them great welfare since the Health Department has not seen it priority to take care of the well being of committed nurses.

(Women at Sigherehe, shortage of clinics has resulted in them sitting outside to do their usual check ups. Picture by Primrose Homiehombo)

The other most important thing is the deterioration of health centers and clinics, some of which classified as unsafe for use but in operation because good-hearted nurses do care and want to help.

(Kesearo Aid Post in the Bena district showing an upside down tank to depict no water and electricity. Picture by Primrose Homihombo)

Kainantu Rural General Hospital, Lufa, and Ungai Bena in the Eastern Highlands Province have been deprived of water and electricity due to non- payment of overdue bills and yet nothing is being done about this problem and nurses struggle to cater the best for their needy patients. What is more troubling is that babies have to be delivered using torch and mobile phone lights.

What was supposed to be a celebration of hard working lifesavers was an opportunity for the nurses to point out their grievances for the government to adhere to when promoting the Free Health Care Policy.

Nurses at the Goroka General Hospital urged the government to look into health facilities especially improving the working conditions and welfare of nurses, as an appreciation of their tireless commitment to saving lives daily.