4 Jun 2018

ADB to support PNG's ailing health sector

11:28 am on 4 June 2018

The delivery of accessible, affordable, and high-quality health services in Papua New Guinea is the target of an Asian Development Bank finance package.

mother and baby in PNG

Photo: supplied

The ADB Board of Directors has approved a total financing package of $US195 million to support PNG's efforts towards achieving universal health coverage

The ADB Health Specialist for the Pacific said PNG's poor health outcomes are the result of deteriorating healthcare services caused by volatile and unpredictable health financing as well as weaknesses in government systems and in health sector capacities.

Inez Mikkelsen-Lopez said this program builds on the Bank's long-term engagement in PNG in the health sector.

Deficiencies in health sector governance, weak public financial management, and fragmented funds flows will also be addressed.

The financing package is comprised of two regular loans worth $100 million and $45.10 million and a $49.90 million concessional loan-all sourced from ADB's ordinary capital resources balance sheet-to help PNG's efforts in achieving universal health coverage.

In a statement, the ABD said despite a period of high economic growth in recent years, averaging 6% annually from 2006-2015, PNG failed to achieve its targets for the Millennium Development Goals on maternal and child health.

Life expectancy in PNG relative to income is low at 65 years and the estimated burden of disease is dominated by chronic diseases, including stroke and heart disease, together with conditions of poverty such as pneumonia and neonatal conditions.

Limited investments in the country's health infrastructure as well as suboptimal health sector governance also undermine service delivery.

The Health Services Sector Development Program combines a policy-based operation and project financing to support critical sector reforms and investments in PNG, enabling the long-term sustainability and effective use of the country's health sector financing.

The program will support the implementation of an integrated public health model linking primary and secondary health facilities in rural areas to improve patient health outcomes.

It will also support decentralized health service delivery by focusing on capacity building of staff at the sub-national level in public financial management and reporting to better plan and budget.

The ADB program will strengthen health service delivery by rehabilitating rural healthcare infrastructure, improving the availability of medical supplies, supporting new health partnerships, and using smart technologies to support digital information systems.

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