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Port Moresby
January 19, 2021

Malabag: Mental Health System Needs Overhaul

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Health Minister, Michael Malabag, says Papua New Guinea’s mental health system needs a complete overhaul. 

Speaking in Lae yesterday, he said the government is looking at ways to improve mental health care which has not featured prominently in previous years.


In Lae, Angau hospital’s mental health unit is a reflection of the attention given to mental health in Papua New Guinea. The nurse in charge, Philma Gadebo, highlighted serious concerns about the facility.


“The ceiling is too low,” she says. “Patients can be electrocuted if they rip the light bulbs.”


Nine years ago, contractors ignored her suggestions on how the unit’s facility should have been built. Today, this unit does not admit patients because it’s too dangerous for staffs and patients.


There are no patients’ cells. The ceiling is too low and windows offer no protection against violent patients who determined to escape.


Yesterday, the health Minister, Michael Malabag, was in Lae for to announce the start of construction on the New Angau hospital. He said, PNG’s Mental health system needs a total overhaul.


Mental health has never been given high importance in government budgets. It is a low priority area but an area in high demand. There are only 6 Papua New Guinea trained specialists, and one psychiatric hospital for 7 million people.


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