12 Dec 2014

Mental health patients in PNG locked in police cells

5:48 pm on 12 December 2014

A provincial health executive says mental health patients are being locked in police cells because Papua New Guinea's Mount Hagen hospital is in serious need of an upgrade.

Dr James Kintwa from the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority says there are no mental health facilities so sometimes patients are taken to the local cells for their own safety and the safety of others.

Dr Kintwa asked the government for at least 27 million US dollars to go towards a new hospital, including mental health facilities, but was instead given under four million.

He says the hospital is being stretched to the limit.

"The hospital here is the original referral hospital for the Highlands region and obviously the region here has got a lot of people. We have about up to about 45% of the total country's population here and the services here are in high demand. We offer facilities of only about 255-260 beds at the moment."

Dr Kintwa says a facility with about 600 beds would better cater for the region.