MORE Papua New Guineans are travelling overseas, especially to Manila in the Philippines, to seek medical treatment because the government is not seriously investing on advanced medical treatment facilities in the country, a medical doctor says.
The chief executive officer of the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Kundiawa General Hospital (SJNMKGH) in Chimbu, Dr Harry Poka, said flights from Port Moresby to the Philippines had increased to five per week because more Papua New Guineans were seeking medical treatment there.
“This has now become medical tourism and we have seen flights from PNG to the Philippines increase to almost five flights per week,” he said.
Dr Poka said the government needed to increase its attention towards investing and bringing in advanced medical facilities and equipment into the country.
“It’s not that hard to provide those medical facilities and treatments offered overseas like in Singapore, Manila or the Philippines to be done here in PNG,” Poka said.
“We can achieve that only if the government is truly willing to do so and provide the enabling environment.”
Dr Poka earlier highlighted that one of the key factors was the tax charged on diagnostic medical equipment.
“Currently, they are being charged 10 per cent GST (goods and service tax),” he said.
“Papua New Guineans will continue to go to the Philippines and other Asian countries in search for proper health treatment due to the very law that exists in this country which allows for medical supplies to be tax-free but medical equipment to be taxed,” Dr Poka said. “I am calling on the Members of Parliament to re-visit this draconian law and make amendments so that diagnostic medical equipment for public hospitals can be free.”