Papua New Guinea’s essential ambulance service – St John Ambulance – has been allotted no cash within the authorities’s funds for 2021.
St John Ambulance runs a fleet within the capital, Port Moresby, and throughout provincial centres. For a lot of the nation it’s the solely ambulance service.
On a funds already decreased by greater than two-thirds, St John has been pressured to chop the variety of ambulances working in and round Port Moresby and to run fewer shifts. There are issues the service may shut down over Christmas. Administration has even thought-about promoting a few of its ambulances to maintain going.
The St John funds was K10m (US$2.8m) in 2019 however this was slashed in 2020 to simply K3m – solely K1m of which has been obtained by the service.
When the already-controversial PNG funds for 2021 was handed by parliament in November – with out the opposition current – a line allotted zero kina to St John.
“We’re past dissatisfied that [an] oversight resulted in public ambulance service funding being solely neglected from the federal government’s 2021 funds and are nonetheless figuring out how we are going to proceed any of our lifesaving companies to the general public,” St John mentioned in an announcement.
The PNG treasury division mentioned the funding lower was an oversight – the funds was swiftly handed with the federal government fearing a court docket injunction from the opposition – however regardless of guarantees no funding has been restored.
The chair of the Nationwide St John Council, Dame Jean Kekedo, has requested the prime minister, James Marape, to instantly restore the service’s funds, saying that with out it greater than 100 frontline ambulance workers shall be laid off or lose shifts over Christmas.
“Decreasing companies isn’t taken frivolously, the monetary place of St John is a big concern, St John can’t proceed to borrow cash to cowl prices to offer companies for and on behalf of the federal government.”
St John has offered an ambulance service in PNG for greater than six many years. It runs 25 ambulances in Port Moresby, Kokopo, Central province, Morobe, Simbu and Madang provinces. It additionally labored with Tropicai and Manolos aviation offering air ambulance companies throughout the archipelago.
Regardless of a longstanding settlement with the PNG authorities to offer the service, St John has needed to droop operations beforehand. In 2015 its fleet ran out of gasoline as a result of the federal government had not paid it.
Most of PNG’s inhabitants of greater than eight million reside in distant and hard-to-access areas. Major healthcare in rural and mountainous villages is proscribed, and tertiary healthcare nonexistent, making ambulances very important in saving lives.
“It’s needed,” mentioned Dr Sam Yockopua, secretary of the Nationwide Medical doctors Affiliation, “and it’s confirmed to considerably scale back moms and infants dying as a result of they’re unable to entry the best care – [currently] that’s round 2,000 girls and a couple of,000 infants that our individuals lose yearly.
“We, as medical doctors know first-hand the significance of correct pre-hospital care that solely St John can present in Papua New Guinea.”