13 Feb 2007

PNG prime minister angry at think tank's criticism of effort to combat AIDS

8:43 pm on 13 February 2007

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, says a damning report on the threat of HIV/Aids infection in PNG was a cheap attack on his government.

Last week the Australian think tank, the Centre for Independent Studies, predicted that a million people would die of the disease in PNG if the government does not tackle the problem head on.

In a report, it says the epidemic will affect a quarter of the population by 2020 but says the problem is not due to a lack of aid.

It says the lack of infrastructure in the country means the money is not going where it is needed.

But Sir Michael says his government has done more than any other government to fight the disease.

He says it has been very supportive in combatting the spread of the virus.

He says it has brought the issue within the prime minister's office; has attracted the support of agencies such as the Clinton Foundation; and has ensured greatly increased funding as the country's budget surpluses have grown.

Sir Michael says the rate of infection is around two percent and the government is working to ensure that the virus does not spread any further.