Today, despite being a resourceful nation with immense potential for growth, PNG is facing several challenges economically, fiscally, and in the healthcare sector. With the rapid growth in population, lack of necessary infrastructure, poor planning, and nature-induced disaster (earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanos), the healthcare system has taken a back seat.
According to the reports, almost 40% of the population is still poor and are facing hardships every day. And, more than 85% of the population still stay in their traditional homes in rural areas. When it comes to youth development, PNG is yet to come up with a plan. It is said that almost 40% of the children in PNG are not developing the way they are supposed to and one in five children are not sent to school. Therefore, these children are still not getting the education they deserve.
With a poor law and order system, the family and sexual violence have become a regular occurrence. It is said that the violence in PNG against women and children is among the highest in the world. Also, about 15% of the population are suffering from a disability.
However, despite the hardships and the numerous challenges, the government is trying to overcome this situation. Their PNG Vision 2050 plan, PNG Government’s 2012 Alotau Accord plan takes care of the education, development, health, law and order, infrastructure, and economic growth. And, they have also developed a special healthcare plan- The National Healthcare Plan 2011-2020. In this plan, the government is implementing a proper healthcare system, where the services in the rural and remote areas will be strengthened.
Currently, PNG has about 51 physicians working outside the capital, which is a very small number for such a vast population. The majority of the doctors, practice in the national specialist hospital or a few other hospitals located in the capital city. Thus, The National Healthcare plan 2011-2020 addresses the issues and is coming up with more hospitals. Other goals of this plan include; to improve the child and maternal care, to reduce the spread of communicable diseases, to make sure people of PNG practice healthy lifestyle, and to have a plan in case of a disease outbreak.
The government has started taking actions on a list of things that need to be done quickly, with regards to the healthcare system. However, once the action is initiated, it is supposed to be widespread, in an effort to reach every individual. Since most of the population resides in the rural and remote areas, the healthcare plan must reach even the remotest locations. This will ensure that every citizen in PNG is exposed to a proper healthcare system. And, this is one of the major requirements that the government must take care of.
VSO is working with the government and stakeholders to improve the healthcare system in PNG. They are committed to strengthening the maternal and neonatal health care, improving sexual and reproductive health, increasing the availability and providing easy access to the required nutrients, and providing nursing education.
Therefore, when we talk about the things that need to be done for PNG healthcare, it includes; having hospitals and treatment centres in rural and remote locations, improving maternal and infant mortality rates, to make sure the communicable diseases are under control, to support people with disability, and to provide the required nourishment to the children. According to the National Healthcare plan 2011-2020, these issues will be addressed and dealt with.
Also, the project is taking longer with difficulties in implementing them because people in PNG have diverse cultures and languages. However, we can see that the government is doing its best to overcome any challenges. Today, they have taken the initiative and several NGO’s are also coming together to do their part. Currently, the morbidity causes in PNG include; pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhea, meningitis, and HIV/AIDS. Therefore, NGO’s and the civil healthcare organizations are trying to reach the un-served areas, to reach each and every citizen. They have made sure to visit the village birth attendants in order to ensure a quality delivery and childcare.
The advantages of having experienced NGO’s by our side are that they help the government in almost every capacity they can. We all know that the healthcare system is funded by the government and the church-run facilities. Thus, the NGO’s form a partnership with these agencies in enhancing the system.
The NGO’s help implement and evaluate the health care policies. They offer several training programs, which help strengthen the skills of the healthcare personnel. Within their capacity, they try to upgrade the healthcare facilities. They also provide medical equipment and small vehicles necessary for the patient transfer and other purposes. Several donors are also joining hands for the betterment of PNG, it is the duty of every citizen to do the same. By following a healthy and a hygienic lifestyle, you can do your part. And, this will help make PNG a wondrous country once again.