PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has given the government commitment to fully fund the National Health Plan 2011-2020 to achieve better outcome in the health sector.
The Prime Minister said this when welcoming a report by Health Minister Michael Malabag that has seen some improvements due to the government’s priority on key areas such as health, education, infrastructure, law and order and growing the economy.
"This is the first time that government is fully funding the National Health Plan after it was launched three to four years ago," Mr O’Neill said. He said the funding requirements were around K1.4 billion per year so that the health plan can fully roll out all the health programs in the country.
"That was never the case before but since coming into government, our intervention policies like the free basic health care and investments in training and building capacity in many hospitals throughout the country are now showing signs of improvement."
He said the government for the first time is investing in training of nurses and doctors and building capacity. He said the government is putting funding directly to major referral hospitals and provincial hospitals around the country for maintenance and rebuilding the image.
"The referral and provincial hospitals are getting funding directly and these are not small," he said.
"Some are getting K10 million every year on top of the normal salaries and supplies.
"This is for maintenance and improvement of hospitals and that too is having positive impact not only on morale but image as well.
"Many of us know that we have not invested in training or making sure the nursing colleges are running. Our medical faculty was under funded and as a result, we have had many years of decline in health workers in hospitals throughout the country."
He said the government’s intervention policies have now been recognised by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that states very clearly that the government intervention policies in education and free basic health care are starting to have positive impacts.