He highlighted this during a consultation meeting with the East New Britain Provincial Health Authority (ENBPHA) management team, led by CEO Dr. Ako Yap, and Gazelle District Administrator, Allan Balbal, on June 25 at Kerevat Rural Hospital.
This occasion was a first and an opportunity for the Health Minister to hear directly from front liners.
ENBPHA chief executive officer, Dr Yap, highlighted that 80 percent of their budget went to personal emoluments, which is a very big cost.
Minister Wong challenged the ENBPHA and CEO to ensure a justified balance of that high cost of personal emoluments towards real health service delivery outcomes to the public across all the four districts.
From Gazelle District Health sector presentation, it was revealed that the overall immunisation coverage rate for Gazelle District is 40 percent.
“This is an unacceptable level that provides a recipe for preventable disease outbreaks,” said the Minister. “We cannot turn a blind eye on this potential problem if we are to prevent another outbreak that draws attention away from the already stressed staff towards another preventable disease epidemic that are within our power to prevent from happening at the first place.
“But if you look at the situation in the four districts in ENB, what we really need to be talking about is how are we going to improve services to the people using resources available to us? That is the power we have, and the opportunity is there for example road access to most if not all rural health facilities.
“Let us not sit around saying we don’t have this or that which is why we cannot do it.
“If the performance was better before, there is no reason why we cannot improve performance now under the new One Provincial Health Authority system.
“We are all in a time where health ministers have come and gone telling us that they want to see groundbreaking initiatives for PHA in ENB.”
He said it is not vehicle or funding that they are talking about but the commitment of the staff to make a real difference.
“All of us are in this together, including the district administrator. This game about service delivery to the people is everybody’s business.”
Minister Wong sighted a common occurrence; whenever special programs come into play – whether run by a government or non-government agency – everyone is sucked out of the system and are running and committed to do special programs attracted by special allowances. Sadly, after these special interventions are over, normal routine programs are neglected.
“This mentality must stop. I know we can do the simplest things to get the basic things right with the current resources available to us. Increase in staffing must equate to improve health services we are delivering to people,” he said.