Bishops: Government must get priorities right

The Catholic Bishops Conference has taken the national government to task over its announcement to slash K50 million this year in funding for health care provided by the Christian Churches in PNG.

Bishop Deputy for Health, Archbishop Stephen Reichert said this huge cut in funding is about a third of the Christian Health Services budget, which is already very lean. 

“For years the Christian Churches have struggled to maintain quality health care on inadequate government funding. 

“This huge new cut not only slashes through the meat and bone of our health care budget, it amputates our arms and legs,” said Reichert.

He explained that the Christian Churches supply about 50% of all health care in PNG, 80% of health care in the rural and remote areas of the country. 

“This cut will be devastating, particularly for poorer and more vulnerable people in the villages, who already suffer from a general lack of adequate social services and development opportunities. 

“What would the National Department of Health like Christian Churches to do?  Lay off a third of our doctors, nurses and community health workers and close a third of our health facilities and trainings centres? 

“Which communities would the Government like to deny health care?  Which training centres should we close?

“This cut cannot stand.  Government has to get its priorities right.  It must find the money somewhere.  Don’t risk the health and well-being of thousands of people,” said Reichert.

Troy Taule