The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a total financing package of US$195 million to support the delivery of accessible, affordable, and high-quality health services in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The financing package is comprised of two regular loans worth US$100 million and US$45.10 million and a US$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.
“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,” said ADB Health Specialist for the Pacific Inez Mikkelsen-Lopez. “The programme builds on ADB’s long-term engagement in PNG in the health sector.”
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 the country 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 Programme 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. Deficiencies in health sector governance, weak public financial management, and fragmented funds flows will also be addressed.
The programme will support the implementation of an integrated public health model linking primary and secondary health facilities in rural areas to improve patient health outcomes. The programme will also support decentralised 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. 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.