“This achievement can only be described as a dream come true for our people who are unable to afford such service abroad and many have succumbed due to the non-availability of such service in the public hospital in PNG.

Two Specialist doctors, Dr Noah Tapaua and Dr Wesong Boko say the new Catheterization Laboratory (Cath-Lab) at the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) is the beginning of a new era in healthcare in the country.

They presented a proposal to the Minister for National Planning, Hon Richard Maru, today for phase 2 of the development of cardiac services at PMGH and the country as a whole. The proposal also covered in detail the steps that need to be put in place in order to fully establish the cardiac services.

They thanked the National Department of Health, Department of National Planning& Monitoring, PMGH Board, PNG Operation Open Heart Foundation and other stakeholders for the support to ensure the Cath-Lab was built and eventually opened in July by the Prime Minister.  

“This achievement can only be described as a dream come true for our people who are unable to afford such service abroad and many have succumbed due to the non-availability of such service in the public hospital in PNG.

"We believed that in opening the new facility that we were witnessing the beginning of a new era for Port Moresby General hospital in health care."

We now have a complete new floor on the Walter strong wing of the hospital that will enables us to have new ways of working and new approaches to caring for our patients. The change in the way we practice medicine is inevitable when disease pattern changes,” Dr Tapaua said.  

The initiative is aimed at addressing the increase in the number of non-communicable diseases (NCD) with their complications including Angina,Heart attack, stroke, complete heart block, vascular related diseases and cancer. Congenital heart disease (CHD) patients is another group we will continue to deal with as long as we have a growing population. The necessity to avoid travelling abroad for first class health and medical care that majority of our people cannot afford is a way forward to taking back PNG.

•      The first IHD case in PNG was reported in 1964

•      The annual mortality rate per 100,000 people from cardiovascular disease in PNG has increased by 20.2% since 1990, average of 0.9%/yr

•      Coronary artery disease is now among the top most common cause of admissions to the medical wards

The Operation Open program has been going on in PNG for 25 years since 1993 and up to this year, a total of 1,169 Papua New Guineans have been treated with a mortality rate of less than 2%.

To address the growing burden of heart related diseases we have in the country such facility is a must so majority of our people can be treated locally. This achievement is a stepping stone for other new development projects the PMGH board and the management is working on to make PMGH a full level 7 hospital required to provide all specialist health services for our people and the government must be acknowledged.

Our National Health plan 2010-2030 states, and I quote; “A happy and prosperous Nation that ensures, Affordable, Accessible, Equitable and quality health services for all citizens”. This is what we all endeavor to provide and with our current government through the office of our health minister, and minister for National Planning and monitoring we believe we will achieve this and thank the Prime Minister.

With the cath-lab we now have, the Intervention Cardiologist will be able to do;

·        Diagnostic cardiac catheterization (visualize arteries, heart chambers, heart valves, study complex congenital heart anomalies)

·        Biopsy

·        Atherectomy

·        Balloon angioplasty (PTCA)

·        Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)

·        Septal closure for congenital heart defects

·        Thrombectomy

·        Balloon Valvuloplasty

·        PPM

 To complete the full cardiac service in the country including other specialist services, we now need to have a new Operating Theatre Complex built at the hospital. The current four (4) operating theatres cannot now support the specialist surgical services the like PMGH with 1,200 beds. For surgery we have the following specialties at PMGH;

·        Neurosurgery

·        Cardiothoracic surgery

·        Plastic & Reconstructive surgery

·        Otorhinolaringology (ENT)

·        Ophthalmology (Eye)

·         Orolmaxillofacio (OMF) surgery

·        Paediatric Surgery

·        Orthopaedic surgery

·        Urology

·        Upper GIT/Hepato-Billiary surgery


The new Operating theatre complex will comprise of 9 new operating suits to cater for all these specialties that is long overdue.

“Along with this, we need new specialists’ positions created to run the services and retain staff to fully develop these specialties. The new specialist positions must be created for doctors, nurses and allied health workers. We are now asking the National Department of Health, the Port Moresby General Hospital and Department of Personal Management for seriously look into this and address the issue so our specialist health services can be fully functional,” Dr Boko said.

September 24, 2019