PNGSF Directed To Release Health Equipment

National Pandemic Controller, David Manning has directed the PNG Sports Foundation to allow NCD Provincial Health Authority staff to re-enter the Rita Flynn sports complex by next week.

He has directed PNGSF Executive Director, Albert Veratau to allow the NCDPHA staff to have access to facilities at the Rita Flynn sports complex by Wednesday, June 29.

The directive came in response to the lockdown of the Rita Flynn Sports Complex and the withholding of critical medical equipment, such as the GeneExpert machine belonging to the NCDPHA. 
The PNGSF closed its doors due to outstanding funds of K6.2 million owed to the PNGSF for the use of the RTC and other facilities.

As a result, the NCDPHA Board met and decided that they cease being the implementing agency for COVID-19 in NCD. Following that decision, NCDPHA CEO, Dr. Steven Yennie sent out a circular, announcing that the decision to come into effect as of Friday, June 17.  

However, in response to that the Deputy Controller, Dr. Daoni Esorom met with both parties to find a solution not to stop COVID-19 response as the National General Elections progress posing risk to the general population.  
However, the PNGSF did not back down on its decision to lock the sports facility which houses the COVID-19 response facilities for NCD.  

This reluctance has resulted in the National Controller sending a directive to the CEO of PNGSF, Albert Veratau, to rescind the Direction requiring the use of Rita Flynn Complex. 

“Whilst I still believe that the facility is necessary for the COVID-19 response, without your ongoing assistance to maintain the use of the facility I do not think it will be possible,” Mr Manning said. 

He said the new direction is unfortunately necessary due to your decision to lock out the PNG COVID-19 staff from the Rita Flynn Complex in breach of the direction issued in February 2021. 

“I issued this previous direction on the expert advice of the health professional working tirelessly at the National Control Centre to protect PNG from the COVID-19 pandemic and after receiving a request from the NCDPHA Acting CEO, Ken Wai. At the time, a complex was urgently needed due to an upsurge in cases in NCI),” Mr. Manning said. 

“The isolation ward at PMGH and Gerehu hospitals were full, and it was critical that Rita Flynn is made available as a temporary field hospital for COVID-19 patients, in particular, so that both PMGH and Gerehu could continue to serve the public without risking the health of inpatients and staff. The COVID-19 response is meant to be a whole of Government response. Not simply a health response.” 

 GoPNG has consistently reiterated that all government agencies are meant to work cooperatively together to protect the people of Papua New Guinea. 
However, at the time, due to the failure of the Sports Foundation to make Rita Flynn available, NCC Controller use his power to issue the Direction, approved by the State Solicitor, Daniel Rolpagarea. 

“I issued this direction on his advice, including the advice that GoPNG is not liable for any expenses incurred during its use. This meant that there was no need for a Venue User Agreement hence it remained unsigned. 

“You will note that this direction was empowered by the powers provided in section 9(l)(e) of the National Pandemic Act 2020, of which you are now in breach,” Mr Manning said. 

He said failure to comply with this direction will be considered a breach of the National Pandemic Act, thus he will act accordingly. 
Further stating that it is unacceptable for any government agency to stand in the way of the delivery of critical health care services in the country. 

“Holding essential health care equipment hostage needed to diagnose and treat our people is unjustifiable and offensive to the people we collectively serve. I trust you with this new direction issued under the National Pandemic Act 2020.” 

Frieda Kana