THE law must be changed to allow around 40 doctors who contested the 2022 General Election to be re-employed now instead of waiting for five years, says former health minister Elias Kapavore.
“The Health Department is faced with critical shortages of clinical staff (especially doctors),” he said.
A recent amendment to the Public Service Management Act prohibits public servants, who had to resign to contest elections, from being re-employed by the government for five years.
Pomio MP Kapavore, also the Shadow Health Minister, said the department badly needed the services of those 40 doctors.
He supported the statements by Health Minister Dr Lino Tom and secretary Dr Osborne Liko for the Government review that law.
“Up to 40 health professionals and 200 public servants resigned (to) contest the 2022 General Election and more than 95 per cent (of them) were unsuccessful,” he said.
“We have a serious shortfall in manpower, especially in medical officers.
“Currently, we have about 500 medical officers serving an estimated population of nine million.”
He said it equated to a ratio of one doctor to 18,000 people – well below the 2017 average among small Pacific island nations.
Kapavore suggested that the department be allowed to do a case review and make recommendations to the Department of Personnel Management and Public Service on who should be re-employed.
“This also goes for other senior public servants who exercised their constitutional rights to contest the election,” he said. “I call on the Minister (Sungi) to review and repeal the recent amendment and revert to the previous arrangement where they can apply for vacancies and do not have to wait for five years to re-enter the public service.”
He said, in his capacity as the deputy chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Public Sector Reform and Service Delivery, he would try to have the amendment repealed.
The National / PNG Health Watch
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