Disease and death in Papua New Guinea

Sirus Naraqi, Bairi Feling and Stephen R Leeder
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (1): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05030.x
Published online: 6 January 2003

Infectious diseases are still the dominating cause of death

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a population of about 5 million people, 85% of whom live in rural villages.1 Since becoming independent in 1975, PNG has experienced problems common to emerging nations of starting from a subsistence base and simultaneously seeking to achieve economic sustainability and nationhood as well as build systems of governance, defence, transport, communication, education and healthcare. Health system development has not kept pace with changing demands in PNG. Instead, primary health services have faltered, placing a heavier burden of disease on struggling secondary care facilities as opportunities for prevention and early treatment are lost because aidposts have closed or vaccination rates have fallen.

  • 1 Western Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Nepean Hospital, Penrith, NSW.
  • 2 Port Moresby General Hospital, Papua New Guinea; and Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, SA.
  • 3 Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


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  • 9. The Australian Government's overseas aid program. Papua New Guinea. Available at (accessed Nov 2002).


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