Papua New Guinea is a beautiful, unique nation that has experienced rapid growth over the last twenty years.
As the population and the economy has surged, other sectors – including heathcare – have raced to keep up. All too often, we hear the negative side of PNG's developing healthcare system when, in fact, major improvements have been made over time.
— PNG Today (@PNGNEWSTODAY) September 22, 2017
The current healthcare system in Papua New Guinea
Since gaining independence in 1975, the population of PNG has risen steadily. Eight million people currently call PNG home, according to the World Bank – a number that's expected to increase 2.7 per cent by 2030 and nearly double again by 2050. By comparison, World Bank figures from 1975 put the population at just under three million.
Along with an influx of new residents, PNG has also experienced sharp economic expansion. Three years ago, global GDP predictions pinned PNG as the fastest growing economy in the world, forecast to increase substantially in coming years.
When a country experiences rapid growth in a short period of time, infrastructure often lags behind despite even the most aggressive efforts. In the case of PNG, this has often meant a healthcare system that can't meet national demand.
Currently, the healthcare service delivery is provided by a combination of government, private facilities and church facilities – the majority of which are located in urban centres. To this end, the National Health Plan 2011-2020 has placed major emphasis on improving access to primary health services in rural PNG. The priority health outcomes of this plan include:
- Improve child survival,
- Improve maternal health,
- Increase the rate of testing for TB,
- Reduce the burden of communicable disease,
- Promote healthy lifestyles,
- Improve preparedness for disease outbreaks.
So, how effective has the National Health Plan 2011-2020 been so far?
Healthcare developments in Papua New Guinea
While there's still a great deal of work to be done, PNG has made major strides in healthcare access and outcomes in the following areas:
Cost of care
In 2014, the government launched a free primary health care programme to make basic health care free for all Papua New Guineans. The initiative also focused on highly subsidised specialised care.
The launch of a facility which brought cutting-edge medical devices to PNG, including an MRI machine, a cardiac unit and a heart lab.
Other medical centres – including those in urban centres – have also received major upgrades in recent years.
The number of malaria admissions and deaths in Papua New Guinea has also dropped significantly over the last decade.
In 2005, there were just under 500 malaria admissions and deaths per 100,000 persons, according to the World Health Organisation. This number fell below 150 in 2016 after hitting a record low of around 75 in 2015.
This is due to a general national awareness, as well as several government backed initiatives including:
- Diagnostic testing,
- Antimalarial medicines,
- Insecticides and spray materials,
- Monitoring and evaluation.
Both infant and under-five mortality have decreased significantly since 1990, according to the World Health Organisation. In 2005, there were 55.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, a figure which dropped to 44.5 deaths in 2015.
In order to access PNG's advancing healthcare system, it's essential to have adequate medical insurance. Currently, the majority of medical services must be paid out of pocket, which can be financially devastating for the uninsured.
To find out more about medical insurance designed for Papua New Guineans, reach out to the team at Trans Pacific Assurance Limited today.