THE National Government’s key priority in the health sector is achieving some outcomes, including a decline in traditional killer diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS.
Health Minister Michael Malabag in a ministerial statement to Parliament yesterday said the O’Neill-Dion Government is taking responsibility for the livelihood of Papua New Guineans through policies such as free primary health care and subsidised specialist services. He said this has improved access and equitable services to the people.
He said a number of highlights are evident in programs that have received sustained funding from development partners and adequate staff, including malaria and HIV. "The prevalence of both diseases has shown declines in recent years," Mr Malabag said.
"Malaria for example, between 2009-2012, saw a 39 percent reduction in the number of reported cases, a 60 percent reduction in malaria admissions and a 50 percent reduction in reported malaria deaths.
"The prevalence of HIV is below 1 percent meaning that we do not have a generalised epidemic as previously thought." "This reinforces the fact that improved funding and staffing are required to see improvement in our indicators. "We need to translate these lessons to other diseases like TB and provide adequate funding and human resources to make an impact."
He said despite the reforms and programs, there are still challenges in areas of maternal and child health, communicable and lifestyle diseases. "Children under five years are not getting sufficient immunisation, as evident by the drop in immunisation coverage in the last five years," he said.
"Women in PNG are not receiving the best in antenatal care. Only six out of 10 pregnant women come for at least one antenatal visit. Furthermore, only four out of 10 mothers deliver under supervision at health facilities."
He said the Department of Health has developed a policy framework and guidelines to implement response to this and will continue to support midwifery and family planning programs through training, advocacy and other essential support to provinces.
Mr Malabag said the department has supported the implementation of various programs to improve the situation in child and maternal health ares captured in the National Health Plan, focusing on improve child and maternal health.
He said in 2013 four child health priorities were carried out, including completion of integrated management of childhood illnesses manual and training, the procurement of 15 oxygen concentrators, providing school medical visits and the completion of IMCI of childhood illnesses.