MANILA - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of K635 million to support the delivery of accessible, affordable and high quality health services in Papua New Guinea.
The financing package comprises two regular loans and a concessional loan to help PNG's efforts in achieving universal health coverage.
Despite a period of high economic growth in recent years, averaging 6% from 2006-15 but declining in recent years, the ADB said PNG failed to achieve its millennium development targets for maternal and child health.
Life expectancy is low at 65 years and diseases including stroke, heart disease, pneumonia and neonatal conditions are chronic.
Yesterday PNG Attitude reported UNICEF as saying that malnutrition is the leading cause of deaths among children under the age of five and that 45% of PNG children have stunted growth while 24% are underweight and 14% suffer from moderate to severe forms of wasting, which can be potentially life threatening.
The ADB said limited investment in the country's health infrastructure and poor health sector governance are undermining service delivery.
The program includes financing to support critical reforms enabling the long-term sustainability and effective use of health sector financing.
Deficiencies in health sector governance, weak public financial management, and fragmented funds flows will also be addressed, the ADB said.
The program will also support decentralised health service delivery by focusing on building capacity financial management and better planning and budgeting.
"It 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," the ADB said.