31 May 2010

Inadequate pathology facilities in PNG frustrate attempts to control disease

7:12 pm on 31 May 2010

A pathologist in PNG says conditions such as cancer, cholera, and HIV are going undiagnosed because a lack of equipment is hampering their ability to process tests.

Dr Francis Bannick is the head of pathology at the Angau Memorial Hospital, which is supposed to provide testing services for the city of Lae, and the northern part the country where about three quarters of the population lives.

But Dr Bannick says a lack of equipment means patients are dying as they have to wait months for their results to come back from Port Moresby General Hospital.

He says his attempts to raise the issue with the health department have been ignored, even though he believes there is money available for the equipment.

"The donor funding is coming in to Papua New Guinea Health Department, or even they're carrying out programmes like TB, malaria, HIV. They're pouring money into the department and other NGO groups. They're not putting money into diagnostic facilities, but without us the laboratory services, how can we diagnose the disease."

Dr Bannick says the hospital should be processing about 4,000 to 5,000 tests a year.