1 May 2006

PNG health minister terrified by lack of manpower in health sector

8:21 pm on 1 May 2006

The Papua New Guinea health minister, Sir Peter Barter, says he is terrified the declining numbers of health workers could soon mean many people will not get even basic services.

The Post Courier reports that Sir Peter wants a plan in place to ensure services are improved.

He says from 2000 to 2003 the number of doctors declined by a third and nursing and other staff by 12 percent.

Sir Peter says this decline could be expected to continue, and given that the population is growing rapidly, in ten years many will not have basic services.

He says unless something is done now there will be almost no immunisation services and children in the villages will die of easily preventable diseases and injuries.

Sir Peter says the problem is a lack of training and meaningful careers for health workers.

He says half the country's nursing schools have closed in the past 20 years while many doctors are enticed overseas.

Sir Peter has told the Secretary for Health to come up with a plan, to be put in place next year, for the expansion of the nursing and community health worker schools.