Public campaign by Health Dept

The health system of the country has come under public scrutiny in recent years for the non-availability of proper cancer and lifestyle disease treatment facilities.

This comes especially at a time when the government has heavily invested in roads and infrastructure while there has been a notable increase in the incidence of non-communicable diseases.

The Department of Health has launched a public campaign to inform people that prevention is important, and this includes lifestyle changes.

Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said the health system provides a mix of responses and treatments, whether it is primary health care from an aid post or health centre or sophisticated surgical interventions from a tertiary hospital.

He said investing in primary healthcare is both wise and fiscally responsible, but the health system must also offer a mix of appropriate services, interventions and treatments to patients who have contracted non communicable diseases.

“Work is also well underway on regulations to be made under the Tobacco Control Act 2016 for the establishment of a Health Promotion Trust Fund to further develop health promotion and disease prevention programs,” stated Kase.

For cancer patients, radiotherapy is one treatment option while there other options such as anti-cancer drugs, chemotherapy and surgery and hormone therapy.

Kase further stated these treatment options are available in most provincial hospitals and explained each patient can be prescribed appropriate interventions, therapies and drugs based on the advice of his or her treating doctor.

At the same time, PNG is working towards bringing about the necessary arrangements to enable the import of cobalt for the use of radiation treatment in Papua New Guinea as part of the available mix of therapies.

Meanwhile, the Health Secretary clarified the necessary arrangements for the import of radiation sources into PNG.

Kase explained, according to the responsible agency for the governance of the use of atomic energy – the International Atomic Energy Agency – any country wishing to import radiation sources must have a regulatory framework.

In the past, PNG was able to import cobalt without a regulatory framework however, the rules have become much tougher following recent incidents threatening the security of countries.

Hence, PNG must now establish a new regulatory framework and a regulator in order to import cobalt for cancer radiation machines.

The Department of Health is working closely with the Office of the State Solicitor and the National Institute of Standards and Industrial Technology to fast-track the necessary regulatory framework to enable the import of cobalt.

(Health Secretary Pascoe Kase)

Carolyn Ure