Case 4.2 – Boram Hospital

Case 4.2 – Boram Hospital

In March 2015 the local media broke the story on the awarding of a K1.2 million contract to an East Sepik Province contractor to fix a toilet at the Wewak General Hospital (National, 2015). The value of the contract and how it escaped scrutiny of the relevant officials – who were charged with the responsibility to monitor the disbursement of public funds – infuriated the public. The case confirmed and pointed to security lapses at commercial banks when clearing cheques valued between K50,000 and over K1 million.

In July 2015 the East Sepik provincial administrator and two other persons appeared before the Wewak District Court for misappropriating K1.1 million belonging to the Wewak General Hospital in a separate case (National, The National, 2016). The ability of the contractor to bypass the procurement requirements when cashing the cheque points to the absence of an effective checks and balance system.

The loss of K1.1 million and K1.2 million in public funds belonging to the hospital does not augur well for a health institution striving to deliver life-saving services in the face of dwindling government and private sector support. The biggest challenge for the hospital’s current management is winning back the trust and confidence of the public after a tumultuous 5 years.

Publicly-funded hospitals – which are likely to get the bulk of a province’s sick population at any one time – should not become training grounds for over-ambitious and inexperienced chief executive officers. After 42 years of independence as a nation, the recruitment of hospital administrators should be a joint exercise between the provincial government and the National Department of Health and is transparent and merit-based.

Update as of 2018

The issues surrounding the theme of maladministration and corruption in public healthcare are vast and alarming, especially so in the case of Wewak General Hospital (synonymously known as Boram Hospital). The previous 20 cases report highlighted certain issues concerning fraud and misappropriation of funds allocated for the efficient delivery of public healthcare services. In two consecutive months – March and July, a total of over K2.1 million was lost due to misappropriation and corruption due to the inadequacies of the check and balances system in the procurement process of public healthcare.[1]

It is known that the case of fraudulence (regarding the parties involved) in the Boram General Hospital misappropriation is an ongoing case with the court. It is inconclusive at this point in time as to the progress of this case. However, in 2016, the case of Wewak General Hospital v Daniel trading as PINS Construction [2016] PGNC 67 [2] shows that the issue of the K1.1 million misappropriation was mentioned. The case revealed that the implicated party (i.e. the contractor – PINS Construction) had applied to dismiss a writ of summons issued by Wewak General Hospital. The writ was to seek the reimbursement of the funds alleged to have been attained by corrupt means and also the transfer of the title of two dump trucks to Wewak General Hospital; the two of which was purchased by PINS Construction using the alleged fraudulent funds. In this case, PINS Construction had attempted to dismiss the summons, but they were unsuccessful as the case was still ongoing and was yet to be decided.

There have been recent media attention surrounding the Wewak General Hospital. The attention has instead been drawn on the provision of funds by the government for the renovation of the hospital’s facilities.[3] The O’Neill & Abel Government has committed funds totalling up to K300 million towards the re-development of the Boram General Hospital. In September 17th 2018, O’Neil launched the redevelopment project and stated that, he will make it his personal business to see the project start and finish on time. (Ove, Prime Minister Launches K300 million Upgrade of Boram Hospital In Wewak, EMTV Online, 2018) [4]

The issue surrounding proper procurement procedures and the inclusion of adequate checks and balances within such a system is concerning and somewhat unsettling. Currently, K300 million is being pledged towards the redevelopment of the hospital; the prevalent issue of misappropriation, if resolved will see that the funds pledged towards such a vocation will end up in the hands of corrupt administrators and their counterparts.

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~ Reference/Bibliography ~

[3] S. Ove, Prime Minister Launches K300 million Upgrade of Boram Hospital In Wewak – EMTV Online, accessed on 11/19/2018 at https://emtv.com.pg/prime-minister-launches-k300-million-upgrade-of-boram-hospital-in-wewak.