|Governor Peter Ipatas|
By PHILIP KEPSON (Post Courier, 25 September, 2012)
ENGA Governor Peter Ipatas has announced a major policy shift by his provincial government from education to health service.
This was after achieving what his government had wanted by prioritising education since “the action governor” came up with the policy 16 years ago.
Mr Ipatas told more than 1000 people in the provincial capital of Wabag last Thursday, during a swearing-in ceremony of nine new board members for Wabag hospital, that after making Enga Province number one in education in the country, it was his government’s prerogative to concentrate on improving health services.
According to the Enga students’ education welfare scheme, the Ipatas Foundation, Mr Ipatas has achieved more than was initially anticipated in education for his province with a record of more than 160,000 students currently enrolled in various learning institutions. This is about 10 times more than the total enrolment figure for many other provinces.
Foundation chairman and former chief secretary Isaac Lupari said of the total 160,000, 8000 students were attending various tertiary institutions in the country and abroad.
Education officials in Wabag said Enga Province had more elementary, primary and high schools than any other province, allowing grade 8 students through to grade 9 while other provinces sent a large number of students home.
“ This is all because of Governor Ipatas’ foresight in making education his first priority when he became the political head in 1996,” Nicholas Tombiam, the provincial high and secondary schools coordinator said.
Mr Ipatas said while still giving some level of attention to education, much of the resources would be shifted to make Enga the leading province in providing health services in the country.
“My vision on building the new hospital is to see people from around the country come to Enga for top medical treatment instead of going to Australia, Singapore or the Philippines,” he said.
Mr Ipatas said the new Enga hospital was awaiting funding from the national government and other sources after satisfying the necessary requirements.
He said his administration had spent more than K3 million during the planning stage in the last five years including payment for feasibility studies, design and land purchase.
Vice Minister for Heath James Lagea, who visited the new hospital site near Wabag rugby league oval, pledged support from the O’Neill-Dion government for the building of the new hospital.
Mr Lagea said the new hospital project would benefit from a major loan arrangement with the Chinese Government for improvement and building hospital facilities program in the country including Port Moresby and Lae hospitals.
The new state of the art hospital which will cost the government over K300 million is expected to be completed in 2015.