PNG Health sector faces ‘serious shortfall in manpower’: Kapavore

Health worker and a patient in Port Moresby General Hospital (Photo: DFAT)

Papua New Guinea Shadow Minister for Health and Public Service, Elias Kapavore has supported comments made by the Health Minister Dr Lino Tom and Health Secretary Dr Liko, to review and repeal the recent amendment to PNG’s Public Service Management Act, which prohibits unsuccessful public servants to be re-employed until after five years.

Kapavore, who is also Pomio MP, said there were up to 40 health professionals and up to 200 public servants who resigned and contested in the 2022 PNG General Elections (PGE), that are now out of the public service.

He said about 95 per cent were not successful in the 2022 PGE.

“We have a serious shortfall in manpower, especially our demand for medical officers,” Kapavore said.

He said currently the country had about 500 medical officers serving an estimated population of nine million people.

“In comparative ratio, that is 0.07 medical officers per 1,000 people, which is well below the 2017 average among small Pacific Islands (0.5),” he said.

Kapavore said that the PNG Department of Health (PDOH) was faced with critical shortage of clinical staff, country wide.

“My view is, we allow the PDOH to review case by case scenario and make recommendations to the Department of Personnel Management and Minister for Public Service on special considerations,” he said.

Kapavore said that this also goes for other senior public servants who exercised their constitutional rights to contest the 2022 PGE.

“I call on the good minister to review and revoke the recent amendments and revert to the previous arrangement where they can apply for vacancies available and not wait for five years to re-enter public service.

“I opposed this amendment when it was presented in parliament and urge other members to support this call,” Kapavore said.