Oil Search commits millions to improving health services in Hela
Tari, Hela Province, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
A combined approach to improving health services in Hela province supported by Oil Search is already making a difference. The success of Hela Province in delivering improved health services is nothing short of incredible. It is a story of partnership with the private sector playing a significant role.
Over the past four years Oil Search alone has contributed over K70 million.
In 2019 the company has committed a further K21 million, which includes K3 million for Koroba District Hospital and K9 million for the new Accident and Emergency facility. Other key private sector partners include Santos, ExxonMobil, Bank South Pacific and Curtain Brothers have all contributed funding and or expertise.
Hela Provincial Health Authority Chairman and Oil Search Managing Director Peter Botten said a few years ago, when Hela became a province, it was struggling to deliver services to a disperse population. However, Hela is now in the top three performers in the country for health services and is striving to improve all the time. Public private partnerships are making a difference.
Speaking at the unveiling of the plaque for the construction of the new accident and emergency building for the hospital – which is funded Santos and Oil Search, Mr Botten also made a personal donation of K500,000.00 towards the construction of this vital facility
In less than three years since the Hela Provincial Health Authority was launched, over 300,000 people now have a functioning provincial hospital staffed with 12 doctors – including six specialists and other essential health staff. This is especially noteworthy because the Province struggled for years to attract and retain specialists– despite many attempts to recruit them.
When the HPHA was launched in November 2016, there were no doctors at the hospital, and the Board had to bring in volunteers from overseas to work in the hospital,
Deputy Chair of the Hela Provincial Health Authority Board, Reverend Olene Yawai said that when he initially joined the Board the hospital was in trouble.
There were not enough health workers and many buildings were unsafe.
‘We were going to receive a huge increase in our funding and had to put almost 200 people on the payroll. But we did not even have a single person with skills in finance or staffing’ he said. ‘We were praying to God not to let the hospital close down and we were scared because the job in front of us seemed impossible yet here we are with a great outcome.’
The PHA, partnering with Government, the private sector, and other donors is now strengthening district hospitals and health centres to ensure communities can directly access help when they need it without having to travel long distances.
Rural health services are benefitting having already achieved 100 % polio immunisation coverage and government money is flowing to the districts for the first time in decades.
Mr Botten said he is pleased with progress to date. He said he was especially appreciative of the contributions made by the Open Members and the Governor to improve health services.
“Although we have come a long way, there is still much more to do, and we can’t do it alone. It is all about partnership’ he said.