31 May 2010

PNG pathology in crisis

1:02 pm on 31 May 2010

A pathologist in Papua New Guinea says patients are dying because a lack of equipment means it's impossible to provide adequate testing services for three quarters of the country's population.

Dr Francis Bannick is the head of pathology at Lae's Angau Memorial Hospital, which is supposed to provide diagnostic testing services for the city of Lae and the northern part the country.

But Dr Bannick says specimens are having to be sent to Port Moresby General Hospital and are taking months to be processed, because of the lack of equipment.

He says that's affecting about 4,000 to 5,000 tests a year for conditions such as cancer, cholera, tuberculosis and HIV.

"If the specimen is sent to Moresby then it takes ages, months even years before the results come back. When worst comes to worst either they get results or they die you see."

Dr Bannick says he has written to the Health Ministry and tried to meet health officials but has been ignored.