About two weeks ago the health authorities in the National Capital District suddenly realised that the immunisation coverage for measles was low – 36% coverage!! And there was fear that an outbreak of measles might happen as it did in 2002. So last week and this week they have been vaccinating every child under the age of 5.
Now the question I want to pose to those in health authorities is this. What were doing to allow the measles immunisation coverage rate to fall as low as 36%? This is unforgivable. In-fact they should be sued for failing one of the basic rights of evey child – and that is to have acess to primary health care. All of a sudden they wake up from their slumber and are rushing around trying to vaccinate all the child in Port Moresby. Who are they trying to fool?
I was a resident medical officer in 2002 when the measles outbreak happen. There were sick children everywhere – on floors and even at the doorway of the ward. Children were dying everyday from measles complicaion like pneumonia and diarrhoea. It seems that in Papua New Guinea, we are so good at band aid treatment of all our problems and do not have the backbone to make tough decisions for long term goals. The low coverage of measels should not have happen in the first place if the primary health care – materhal and child health clinics were up and running in Port Moresby City!
The general public do not have faith in our public health system anymore! The other day I walked past the Port Moresby General Hospital and saw a sign on the ER door – “ER closed due to lack of medicine”. I am working at a private hospital and I have patients and guardians coming in to buy basic stuff like intravenous giving sets and drug vials! How can a big hospital like PMGH continue to operate in such conditiions.
I just wish our ‘big guys’ should put money where they mouth is and back it up with actions!
Anyway, long live PNG!!