The Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, Richard Maru, handed the funding over to Enga Governor, Chief Sir Peter Ipatas, at the second graduation ceremony for the Enga School of Nursing on Wednesday, 6th June.
Minister Maru said PNG is short of about 2,400 nurses.
“Government is very much aware of the shortage of nurses and aging nursing workforce. And the truth is this; our health indicators are among the poorest in the Pacific.
“We are a blessed country, we have so much resources, but our health indicators are still among the poorest,” Minister Maru pointed out.
He went on to thank the Enga School of Nursing for graduating the 34 students who will help to start filling up the nursing vacancies around the country. Minister Maru also challenged the Department of Health to give positions to all the graduands of the Nursing College.
“They shouldn’t be looking for jobs. We are so short of nurses, government has provided the positions, Health Department must make it right through the Nursing Council and I want to see all these graduands leaving here and getting straight into jobs. We need them in the field where the need is the greatest,” Minister Maru stressed.
The Minister told the graduating class that unlike other paid jobs, theirs was a noble profession that required them to uphold high ethical standards, including keeping healthy habits.
“Nurses and other medical workers in the health profession; you are in the front line of our health efforts in the country. The example must start with you. If you want to stop people from chewing buai and getting cancer, you don’t chew yourself. You don’t smoke. It must start with you. I hope those of you who are graduating today will take your jobs very seriously,” Minister Maru said.
The Minister also encouraged the graduands to aim for the highest in their careers. He further urged stakeholders, including all nursing colleges, the National Department of Health and the Department of Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology, to ensure that nurses are trained to the world’s best standards and colleges maintain high academic criteria so that in time, Papua New Guinea can be able to send highly trained nurses out into the global market.
In the meantime, Sir Peter urged his people in the villages to appreciate the services being provided by the government, such as health and education.
He said Enga Province has a long term vision to become an education hub as well as a medical hub. The Enga Provincial Government has demonstrated its commitment by funding the wages of staff of the nursing college for the past four years.
Minister Maru commended Sir Peter for the high standards maintained at the college from the facilities, teaching equipment and quality teaching staff.
Chief Executive Officer for Port Moresby General Hospital, Dr. Umesh Gupta, said Port Moresby General Hospital has 840 nursing positions. In 2013, the hospital had only 374 nurses, which was less than 50 per cent of the needed workforce. Because of this, the hospital had to employ 80 nurses from overseas.
Dr Gupta proudly said that today, Port Moresby General Hospital has a nursing workforce vacancy rate of just 6 percent; that is 48 vacancies for nurses. He attributed the improvements to the support from nursing colleges around the country.
Principal of the Enga School of Nursing, Noelyn Koutalo, said the funding from Government will go towards the building of the new library and laboratory complex. The ground breaking of the complex was officiated by Minister Maru, Chief Sir Peter and Wabag Open Member, Dr. Lino Tom.
The Enga School of Nursing has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pacific Adventist University that will see degree courses taught at the college in 2019, and will enable students to attain Bachelor of Nursing for the first time at the college. This is made possible with the consent of the National Department of Health and the Department of Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology.
The 34 students graduated with diplomas in general nursing and were also presented their Provisional Registration by chairman of the PNG Nursing Council, Peter Pindan.
(SOme of the graduating students)