PNG HEALTH Minister Dr Lino Tom this morning opened the PNG Midwifery Society 4th Symposium at Holiday Inn, Port Moresby.
He says one of the biggest problems facing the country today is people wanting to get what they can from the systems rather than give to the country.
“Those of us who were born in 1970s and grew up in the 1980s and are working today will attest to what I am saying today. The health systems in 1980s and early 1990s seem to really work. We had good quality medicines and these were available in almost all rural health facilities.
“My father was a HEO, one of those pioneer HEOs in this country. I think he was one of those pioneer health workers who actually took over administrative roles, taking over from an expatriate who was looking after health in Enga.
“Growing up at that time, I used to follow him around when he visited rural health facilities. At that time, the heads of the (health) department really went to the peripheries, visited remote areas on chopper. I had an opportunity of jumping with him on a chopper to go to some of the most remote areas in our province.
“The health workers were passionate. They wanted to do something for their new country and they have. But today, it’s the other way around. We seem to have less passionate workers; we seem to have people who are more interested in what they can get out of the system and out of the country than give to the system and the country.’’
Dr Tom has also said family planning will be one of his major priorities in his 100-day plan, saying the population growth has outgrown the country’s ability to provide for its people.
He says unless and until the country has some major economic activity happening, the population growth rate must be cut down.
“The law and order situations and social issues we have is because the bulk of the youth are restorting to bizzare ways of actually expressing themselves because we cannot engage them anymore. There are not enough institutions to cater for the young people. We have not created enough jobs…’’
Other priorities in Dr Tom’s 100-day plan includes looking at increasing the health workforce, improving healt workers' working conditions, strengthening the systems of governance in the health system and the drugs and medical supply issue.
He also wants a digitalised health system so that people will know who is holding what positions to address the issue of people not working but still being paid, especially those holding positions in the rural areas but spending more time in urban areas rather than working.