THE special parliamentary committee on public sector reform and service delivery has taken the Health Department to task over cancer services issues.
Last March, then committee chairman Elias Kapavore made specific reference to Health Department’s “inaction” to the Cobalt 60 radiation source at the cancer centre in Lae and the failure to deliver appropriate brachytherapy.
Mr Kapavore said that Health Minister Michael Malabag had been misled by his department on replacing the Cobalt 60 source.
He said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requires the relevant safety standards to be incorporated into PNG domestic law, among others.
Having considered this, the committee wrote to IAEA on November 30, 2015, regarding the urgent need for the Cobalt 60 replacement and whether a dispensation was available.
The agency replied on January 16, 2016, Mr Kapavore said, adding it was clear from the reply that PNG could negotiate with Canada or Indonesia – who had previously expressed interest – to obtain the required Cobalt 60 source.
“This action could have taken place in 2012 but did not. It is administrative malaise in Health Department, not lack of legislation that is preventing supply of a new source,” he said.
Mr Kapavore, who is now Personnel Management Minister, highlighted these shortcomings in the committee’s 2016 report on health sector management.
He said there was a need now to sit down and rationally examine what was necessary for an effective national cancer prevention and treatment system, rather than blame others “for the total dysfunctionality cancer management”.
“My committee is dissatisfied with the ad hoc and inadequate nature of the current cancer treatment regime and wants to see a more open and transparent analysis of linear technology (from the Cobalt 60 radiotherapy) before it is adopted,” Mr Kapavore said.
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