Mt Hagen Hospital has started charging its patients minimal fees for the supply of drugs and other services due to a shortage of essential medical supplies and equipment.
The National Department of Health which is responsible for supplying drugs to all hospitals throughout the country has been unable to supply most of the drugs requested.
This has put a lot of burden on the hospital, resulting in the decision to charge fees in order to raise internal revenue to purchase new supplies to meet the demands of patients.
The Board of the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority (WHPHA) at its recent meeting passed a resolution to this effect in light of the low levels of drugs currently available at the hospital pharmacy.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the WHPHA, Dr. Paulus Ripa when implementing the decision of the Board last week said the charging of such fees was in accordance with provisions under the Provincial Health Authority Act.
He said whilst primary health care was free under the National Government’s Free Health Care Policy, other services such as surgery, x-ray and pathology were secondary services and as such attracted fees.
He said the fees would depend on the types of services provided and would range from K1 for prescription drugs from the pharmacy to K2 for minor tests and up to about K75 for medical reports.
Dr. Ripa said such decision was regrettable but it had to be made in order for the hospital to buy drugs locally and continue to treat patients that visited it and not turn them away because of shortage of drugs.
He said he hoped the Health Department would act quickly and supply the drugs and equipment that have been ordered so that normal services would continue.