The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands has cautioned authorities responsible for the COVID-19 crisis management in Papua New Guinea not to neglect the immediate impacts and general outflow of primary services in the country.
They say a strong and effective crisis management strategy that puts people and citizen first is needed.
They added they have observed gross abuse of power and many rights violated for ordinary citizens in PNG during the first wave of the pandemic and it continues to hit on harder on economic and general health and wellbeing of citizens and migrants residing in PNG.
Other issues include;
- Thousands of families are financially insecure and many more face food security concerns with loss of jobs particularly in the tourism industry and extraction industries.
- Health grants from NDOH not matching the current demands of primary health care particularly for Christian Church Health Services and major hospitals and referral centres.
- No backstop/social security for families who are forced to cease SMEs
- Lack of monitoring of Extractive industries – and other corporate companies overworking and underpaying their employees during those high burden times when job insecurity was high and many other examples.
While applauding the Marape Government in their response during the first wave last year, the Conference believed sufficient financial resources were donated and must not be used to fight COVID-19 but also improve the health system in PNG.
However, observed the opposite in the last 12 months.
“Our public health services are declining at the expense of Covid-19 either through complacency or distorted priorities.”
The Conference appeals to the National Department of Health and appointed Covid Controller’s Office to work together with key service providers, business houses, and human rights movements and not take light of the matter.
“Be realistic and practical and not react with panic. Restrain from over politicizing a public health issue as it has already costed this country a lot.
“Let us redirect whatever financial resources we have to salvage our declining public health needs to balance the treatment, care, and prevention of other lifestyle and healthcare concerns that are equally important to our immunity.”