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12 March 2019

28 February 2019 - Joint media release - Port Moresby

The HiT (Health Systems in Transition) Review, a collaboration between the World Health Organization (WHO), the Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (APO) and the World Bank Group was launched today by WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Takeshi Kasai. Dr Kasai formally presented the report to the Department of Health during his first visit to Port Moresby as WHO’s newly appointed Regional Director.                                                                  

The HiT is an independent evaluation of the entire national health system that can be used by academics, development partners and government officials from all departments to provide advice to policy makers about how the Papua New Guinea health system can be improved for the future.

“This is the first HiT produced for PNG. It is a powerful resource for any policy maker or development partner wanting to better understand the country’s health system, and how to improve it. For PNG to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030, it is essential we understand where the health system is at now and how it needs to be strengthened. This report helps us to do that,” said Dr Kasai.

The HiT was written under a programme of activities conducted by the Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, funded by the World Bank, and under the overall editorial guidance of Professor Maxine Whittaker of James Cook University in Australia.

Written jointly with staff from Department of Health, the HiT brings together all available information on the health sector in Papua New Guinea, including organizational and management structure, financing, human resources, physical facilities, and the latest data on how different services are delivered.

“The HiT is an excellent resource for understanding the complexity and the uniqueness of the health system in PNG. This will help to guide partners and implementers alike in developing programmes that support a stronger PNG health system, by providing a one-stop-shop resource for ‘how the health system works’ in the country,” Dr Kasai added.  

The health coverage data presented in the report demonstrates that there are significant inequities in access to primary health care and the WHO-defined essential package of services in PNG. Coverage of these services is low and has stagnated, or in some cases declined, in recent years. At the same time, noncommunicable diseases are on the rise.

Sir Dr. Puka Temu, Minister for Health and HIV said “the Provincial Health Authority reform is the one of the most powerful health system reforms that we are undertaking. This is my priority. The PHA will bring our district and provincial health systems under one umbrella, and allow us to improve planning and funding of primary health care and address the inequities. The HiT provides our development partners with the essential knowledge on where they can support the Government to strengthen our system for UHC.”

While much has been achieved over the last 20 years in terms of life expectancy, challenges remain, especially for maternal and newborn health. Addressing the lack of access to health facilities and chronic shortages of health care workers, particularly in rural and remote areas, and continued implementation of the Provincial Health Authority reform, are key priorities of the Minister for Health and HIV, Dr Sir Puka Temu.

“Given Papua New Guinea’s young and growing population, investing in much-needed human capital, through greater investment in health and education, is vital to the country’s growth and well-being,” said Patricia Veevers-Carter, World Bank Country Manager for Papua New Guinea.  “The Papua New Guinea Health Systems In TransitionReview provides useful information for PNG policy makers that will assist the design of evidence-based actions aimed at realizing its full human potential.”

The report concludes that the government’s ‘back-to-basic’ approach in improving access to health and investing in human resources and infrastructure for improved access to quality and cost-effective primary health care, particularly in rural and remote areas, are crucial for Papua New Guinea to reach the Sustainable Development Goal targets on health. Improved management capacity at provincial level will also be critically important. 

From left, Dr Nima Asgari, Director, APO , WHO South East Asia Regional office and Maxine Whittaker of James Cook University, Australia observe as Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific officially hands over the HiT Report to Minister for Health in PNG, Sir Dr Puka Temu in Port Moresby
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