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NZ Supports Health Initiative In Papua New Guinea

NZ GOVERNMENT Supports Health Initiative In Papua New Guinea

Save the Children New Zealand has today marked World Health Day by announcing the launch of a new health initiative in Papua New Guinea, where the health status of the nation’s 4.5 million rural population is very poor.

Papua New Guinea has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the Pacific, while malaria and other poverty-related communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis continue to be leading causes of death, particularly among children.

New Zealand’s Deputy High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Peter Lund, formally launched an extension to Save the Children’s East Sepik Women and Children’s Health Project last week. The Project, which trains and supports women from the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea to provide medical care in their communities, will now be integrated with the Provincial Health Authorities and Church Health Services, with the financial support of NZAID.

Save the Children New Zealand’s Executive Director John Bowis said the expected outcome is an improved and coordinated service for nearly 200,000 people in isolated rural areas of East Sepik Province.

“Volunteers in each of 200 villages will be supported, mentored and supervised by qualified health staff of the Church Health Services and Provincial Division of Health,” said Mr Bowis.

“Extensive staff training and improvements in health facilities will ensure this sustainable model is fully integrated into existing health services in five years time. We are delighted to receive such strong support from NZAID and hope this model can be adopted by other provinces in Papua New Guinea.”

Speaking from Wewak on Papua New Guinea’s north coast, Mr Lund said all involved in the Project should celebrate what has been achieved over the last eight years.

“The NZAID team has been impressed by the strong sense of commitment and determination shown especially by the 430 Village Health Volunteers involved in the Project,” he said.

“A considerable portion of the rural health service is managed by the churches and it is in these institutions that the population finds the most efficacy. Volunteers have provided over 100,000 consultations in remote villages over the past year and it is hoped that the increased support to them will lead to a faster and more effective health service in Papua New Guinea.”

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