The director of a Papua New Guinea research institute says successive governments over the last 20 years haven't given the health sector the priority it deserves.
Paul Barker of the Institute of National Affairs is responding to a recent World Bank report stating that within 10 years, 50 percent of the health sector workforce in PNG will have either retired or moved elsewhere.
A consultant for the Bank, Ian Morris, says staffing in the health workforce is at crisis point and he's called for a whole of government approach to tackle issues such as training.
Mr Barker says the sector's largely been ignored by politicians.
"With inadequate support for human resource capacity we have been going backwards. Plus of course we find some of PNG's medical staff, there has been a bit of a brain drain too, heading off to Australia and elsewhere. So that's an added challenge."
Paul Barker says in rural areas medical staff numbers are low and many nurses and midwives are in their late 50s or early 60s.