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Australian Agency, International SOS breaks PNG Laws

GLOBAL healthcare giant International SOS has been operating the PNG's Manus Health Facility for three years without registration by the PNG Medical Board, according to a government-sanctioned committee.

This was despite formal requests by PNG Health Minister Michael Malabag and the medical board for plans to be submitted for approval, the Independent Review Committee said in its preliminary findings.
The three-member committee, headed by medical board chairman Dr Osborne Liko, said the senior management of ISOS had “deliberately breached the law”.

It said ISOS country general manager Mark Delmonte had confirmed that the health facility had not been registered or licenced under the PNG Medical Registration Act.
“They were only given temporary licences for day clinic at makeshift containers in 2013 only for the purpose of daycare clinical services. Knowingly, ISOS has operated the Manus facility thus seriously breaching the PNG Medical Registration Act 1980. The penalty for that breach under the legislation must be applied. Senior management of ISOS deliberately breached the law.” The committee said the Government took swift action by deporting Delmonte and not allowing any new registration for ISOS throughout the country until a full investigation is completed.

Following the clampdown, ISOS threatened to stand down medical services at the Manus Health Centre if the facility was not licenced and a travel ban lifted.
Regional managing director for Australasia, Adrian Leach, said in an email to Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari on Jan 13 that the company “cannot sustain services beyond Friday 20th January to the required level on Manus Island under the health service contract with the Australian government”.
However, Minister Malabag advised against the registration of the Manus facility in isolation of other breaches by ISOS.

He said in a letter to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on Jan 16 that the Independent Review Committee had raised several breaches of other legislations such as labour, tax evasion and immigration by ISOS and its subsidiaries and medical team.
Malabag said he was in the process of preparing a submission for the National Executive Council (NEC). “Hence, it is my advice to you that until the NEC deliberates on this matter, the registration of the Manus facility should not be looked at in isolation from all other breaches by this company.
“In fact, I strongly suggest that we allow ISOS to withdraw their services on the basis of them breaching the Medical Registration Act as it is a serious criminal offence,” he said in his letter to O’Neill.

Malabag reiterated that several refugees had died in Manus while the health facility remained unlicenced “raising serious criminal and other legal issues” in the coronial inquest into the death of asylum seeker Hamid Khazeai.
In April last year, the minister directed the medical board not to issue any new licences or renew existing ones to ISOS following revelations by the ABC Four Corners programme, Bad Blood, about the case of Khazeai who died at the Manus Detention Centre from bacterial infection.
The television programme quoted some of Australia’s most senior doctors and medical workers with experience in the offshore detention system.
ISOS has been contracted by the Australian government to provide healthcare services to detainees, which has already cost Australian taxpayers billions of dollars, but the doctors said the medical care provided in Manus was “dangerously inadequate”. The National/ PNG Today
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