Lae’s Urban Clinics Experiencing Supply Shortages of Anti-Malarial Medication and Antibiotics

Urban clinics in Lae City are experiencing a general shortage of anti-malarial drugs and antibiotics.

While staff at government clinics have been hesitant to speak on record, they said they are referring patients to the pharmacies to buy their medicines.

Church agency clinics are also facing similar shortages.

A typical day at Lae’s Malahang Urban Clinic sees large populations from Lae’s outer suburbs come to get medical treatment.

This is part of the government health system that being put under pressure by an increasing population and dwindling drug supplies.

Staff here was not prepared to speak on camera but say there is a serious shortage of medicines including antibiotics like chloramphenicol needed for extended treatment of infections like typhoid.

What has also become obvious is the shortage of anti-Malarial drugs. Patients are being told to buy their own at private pharmacies. Many come from rural locations and it is difficult.

“They’re telling me to go to a pharmacy,” said one patient. “It’s difficult for me. I’ve come from a long way.”

At the Lutheran church run Ampo Clinic, the only person willing to speak was nurse, Sr. Cutodia Kigasung, a veteran of 30 years.

“There is a shortage of antimalarial drugs,” she says. “We have no choice but to write prescriptions and send off the patients. The medicines are expensive.”

The Ampo clinic also gets some of its medicines and consumables from the Area Medical Store. This is part of the government’s medical chain that supplies medicines and others essentials to hospitals and clinics in Momase and Highlands region.

Sr. Kigasung says the shortage of supplies has hit them hard. They are charging patients despite direction to implement the Government’s Free Health Care policy.

At the government run Buimo Clinic, staff referred us to the Lae District Administration for comment.

They too are facing shortages in anti-malarial and antibiotics. Every patient that requires medicine is being referred to private pharmacy.

It is costing them, on average, about the equivalent of private health care.

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Scott Waide

Scott Waide

is the Lae Bureau Chief and began his career with EMTV in 1997 as a News and Sports Reporter and Anchor and has been a media professional for over 19 years. Having previously worked as a Producer and Researcher for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Port Moresby Bureau, he is a recipient of multiple awards including the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union Prize in 2005 in Iran for best news feature, the Pacific Island News Association Award and the Divine Word University Media Freedom Award.

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