4 May 2006

PNG government to look at ways to encourage doctors to stay

11:22 am on 4 May 2006

Papua New Guinea's health minister says the country needs to find ways to get doctors to practise locally instead of going abroad.

Sir Peter Barter says he's terrified that a rapid decline in the number of staff could soon mean people may not get even the most basic services.

Out of 938 registered doctors, 430 work in public health with just five specialist physicians to cater for a population of six million people.

He says he's particularly concerned about rural areas, given 50 percent of posts have had to close due to doctors retiring and no one to fill the post.

Sir Peter says the government needs to find ways to make doctors stay given many end up practising overseas.

"So this dictates the government has to start looking at a bonding system to at least get those physicians that have spent so many years being trained in Papua New Guinea, that they can return the same number of years back to PNG to help the health system in this country."

Sir Peter Barter has asked the department of health to draft a long term plan to improve staffing levels for all health workers this year.