THE deaths of four people from the alleged use of Propofol at a local hospital in Papua New Guinea last year raised the alarm on the country’s critical drug shortage, says PNG's Health Minister Dr Lino Tom.
He told Parliament this week that from the K347 million budgeted for medicines, only K200 million was allocated – a difference of K147 million.
Tom was replying to Pomio MP and former health minister Elias Kapavore who wanted to know the outcome of the investigation by the Health Department into the deaths of the four people at the Port Moresby General Hospital.
Propofol is used to put patients to sleep, and keep them asleep during general anesthesia.
Tom said the report on the department’s investigation would be tabled in Parliament after the coroner’s inquiry had been completed, to avoid any contempt of court issue.
The inquiry into the death of 14-year-old Rex Wanzing at the hospital on Aug 12 last year, will resume on Sept 12.
“Though the death of these four is unfortunate, it has raised a very important issue the Government must address, and that is the critical shortage of drugs in the country,” he said.
“We talked about corruption issues facing the drug procurement systems.
“The first thing I am thinking of doing is to outsource this procurement of drugs to some important development partners that we have.
“If there was a situation like this, at least they can be accountable to, because it seems that we can’t be accountable to our own people.”
Tom told the MPs that it was very expensive to buy medicine and there were a lot of issues around the procurement of medicines in the country.
Therefore, he said fingers should not be pointed at anyone on the death of the four.
“The responsibility of these deaths and all these other issues is on all of us,” he said.
Tom said the first thing to do when there was a medical-related death in the hospital at the hands of health workers was to conduct a corona’s inquest, which had started this year.
He said as soon as the court was concluded, the report would be tabled in Parliament.
Hospitals, health centres and clinics have been low or out of drugs in the past six to nine months.
The National / PNG Health Watch
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