THE OPPOSITION has slammed the Government's plans for a K500 million upgrade of Jacksons Airport amid deteriorating hospital conditions, supplies and life- saving equipment.
Re- appointed Transport, Civil Aviation and Works Minister Don Polye's recently announced his intention to fund upgrading of Jacksons Airport at a cost of K500 million.
Drawing from recent personal experience, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Lae MP Hon Bart Philemon said that once again the Somare -Temu Government's funding priorities show they see the lives of ordinary Papua New Guineans as expendable.
"It took 10 years to find less than K10 million to purchase a cobalt machine for the cancer ward in Lae following the deaths of many Papua New Guineans who could not afford to go overseas for such treatment", Mr. Philemon said, referring to Angau Base Hospital's lack of this equipment for decades.
"And look at the deteriorating conditions of the nation's major hospital- Port Moresby General Hospital. Just the other day, a biopsy cannot be performed on the scheduled time for a patient from Lae and was delayed for three days due to lack of sterilization equipment. Following the biopsy operation, the lift from ward 3 was not working so we could not take him to ward 8."
Mr Philemon said the patient had to stay in ward three until he regained consciousness. "... and then weak and groggy as he was, we had to assist him up several flights of stairs to ward 8," he added.
Recounting another personal experience, Mr Philemon said last year, when another friend in Lae had his legs broken, he had to pay K108 for morphine in a pharmacy to relieve the agony because this basic medical drug was depleted.
"This has cost me over K100 to buy this basic drug. What about the majority of the rural people. Can they afford K100 to buy morphine in a pharmacy?"
Mr. Philemon said that governments no doubt have to juggle a lot of conflicting, demanding and costly priorities.
"But what I am dismayed and aggrieved about is that this Somare-Temu Government seems focused on costly luxuries that serve a few elites and themselves while the people - the citizens that elected them into office - are struggling or dying from lack of basic health services," he said.
Mr Philemon, who has been critical of the government' was critical of the government's purchase of the K128 million Falcon executive jet
"Where is our planning? What are our most important priorities? And where are we putting our monies? What is good is a K128 million Falcon Jet or K500 million spent on upgrading Jacksons Airport to your dying, struggling citizens?" the Lae MP said.
"If Port Moresby General Hospital and Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae are in dire, sorry state; its frightening to imagine what condition the other 18 provincial hospitals, 89 district health centres and sub health centres must be in."