Medical supplies (drugs, dressings and equipment) are essential to an effective health service, regardless of how the service is provided or by whom. Efforts to improve the quality of service through training, supervision, innovation or partnership are almost nonsensical if a basic input such as medical supplies is not in place.
Reform of PNG's medical supply system is both critically important and incredibly complex.
PNG reformers will need to be committed and courageous for an extended period of time, as will their external supporters.
There is a strong conceptual and practical case for donors to support this process through the direct provision of medical supplies.
There will be pressures – both internal and external – to end external support prematurely. If conceptual and historical lessons are to be beneficial, this pressure is to be resisted.