Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

130705 - MR - Health Access for WHP & JP

5 July 2013

Australia boosts health access for Western Highlands and Jiwaka communities

Australia is increasing access to health care in Western Highlands and Jiwaka, with the official opening today of new and refurbished rural health facilities in both provinces.

Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Ms Deborah Stokes, today officially opened the Mt Hagen Catholic Health Services infrastructure upgrade in a ceremony in Kuruk.

The K5 million facilities delivered through the PNG-Australia Incentive Fund include two new sub-health centres and staff houses at Kuruk and Fatima, staff houses at Mun, a new patient waiting area and staff houses at Rebiamul, and an ambulance.

Ms Stokes said the facilities would expand clinic services in critical areas such as maternal and child health.

“Health needs in PNG are huge - infants have a one in 13 chance of not making it to their fifth birthday and the maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the Asia Pacific,” Ms Stokes said.

“These new facilities will make a difference, with Kuruk and Fatima health centres providing women and children with new maternity wards, antenatal clinics and 24-hour staffing,” Ms Stokes said.

Catholic Health Secretary for Western Highlands, Sister Divya, expected outpatients, inpatients, immunisations, antenatal services and supervised births to double thanks to the new and upgraded facilities.

Last year Mt Hagen Catholic Health Services served more than 204,000 outpatients, delivered 266 babies and provided more than 39,000 immunisations.

“The construction of staff housing means health workers can live closer to the clinic and attend to patients more quickly, reducing waiting times and providing services after hours, on weekends and in emergency cases,” Sister Divya said.

Since 2000, Australia has built K350 million worth of health and education infrastructure in PNG through the Incentive Fund. The Incentive Fund supports well-managed organisations to access funding for innovative projects that have a strong development impact for men, women and children of PNG.

In 2012-13, Australia provided around K230 million in assistance to strengthen PNG’s health systems, with similar support expected in 2013-14. Australia’s assistance includes direct financing for health facility operations and outreach, health worker training, procurement and distribution of quality-assured medical supplies, refurbishment of health facility infrastructure and contracting of health service providers.