Deputy Chairman of the National Health Board, Dr.Mathias Sapuri, has commended the efforts of the Government to recruit doctors from Cuba.
Dr. Sapuri said primary healthcare is fundamental because currently, doctor to patient ratio in a rural area is one is to 80,000 to 90,000, that doesn’t look promising for the delivery of adequate health services.
This is because most national doctors do not want to work in rural areas.
“I welcome the National Government’s decision to recruit Cuban doctors, who will help fix some chronic problem in the health care system,”
“The Cuban doctors will be posted to rural centers to provide their expertise in health care for the people. They will be the primary doctors. They will do the screening and identify where the problem is. Then they can treat, they can solve, fine. I think that’s the gap, that’s the gap that has been missing in Papua New Guinea,”
“If you have that scale of people working in that level, then there is a proper referral, traffic system where you can be able to move patients around. This is where you cut down on the complications that happen with patient care in most rural PNG,” Dr. Sapuri said.
For many years, Papua New Guinea’s healthcare system has been struggling with compounding issues; like the medical school not graduating enough doctors; and lack of major infrastructure to train many more doctors.
“So it’s a big challenge, but off course, we have to put this to the government and say, that its not about establishing the concrete, buildings and research etc…but continually funding it to deliver outcomes,” he said.
While many may question the obvious language barrier, Doctor Sapuri said that under the Cuba-PNG Health Diplomacy, Cuban doctors will be thoroughly screened before they are selected.
“The recruitment process will be established by the National Department of Health and monitored by the National Health Board, and also monitored by the appropriate authorities such as the PNG Medical Board,”
“While there maybe some people who may disagree with the idea, the long term plan is to have a stringent process so that we put the right people to serve our people in rural areas,” Sapuri said.
Meanwhile, national doctors who are jobless must immediately contact the Health Department or apply directly to provincial health authorities.
Dr. Sapuri says the National Health Board fully supports the Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments, and will monitor the implementation of the Cuba-PNG Health Diplomacy.