21 Sep 2004

PNG faces furture workers crisis due to HIV/Aids infection rate

8:18 am on 21 September 2004

Save The Children New Zealand says there will be serious shortages of skilled people in Papua New Guinea in future because of the HIV/Aids epidemic there.

Fifty thousand of Papua New Guinea's five million inhabitants have the virus and it is estimated that one in five people will be infected in six years time.

The Save the Children New Zealand executive director, John Bowis has just returned from a visit to PNG where he says the epidemic is similar to those in Africa in the 1980s and 90s.

Mr Bowis says better education is needed, along with better information, changed attitudes and strong government leadership.

But Mr Bowis says HIV/AIDS will hit both families and the workforce hard.

"They will lack teachers, they will lack nursing people. They will need to develop a new cadre of people who will work with Aids-infected people. There will be many children who will be orphaned by parents who die."