Inequity in child health: what are the sustainable Pacific solutions?

Trevor Duke
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2004.tb06487.x
Published online: 6 December 2004

Child health will only improve when local structures are further strengthened, enabled and supported

Most countries in the western Asia-Pacific region have made consistent gains in child survival over the past 25 years (Box 1).1,2 Notable exceptions to this positive trend are Papua New Guinea (PNG) and East Timor. Sadly, a static child mortality rate such as has occurred in PNG, where the population has doubled over the past 25 years, means that, in this new century, about twice as many children are dying per year as in the mid-1970s. The health inequities between Australia and its nearest neighbours are many, and breathtaking in magnitude.

  • Trevor Duke

  • Centre for International Child Health, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, VIC.



I am very grateful to Professor John Vince for his advice and suggestions.

Competing interests:

I have previously been a short-term advisor on research on the AusAID PNG Women’s and Children’s Health Project and a Visiting Lecturer on the AusAID PNG Medical Officer, Nursing and Allied Health Professional project. Between 1997 and 2000, I was employed by the PNG Department of Health as a paediatrician.


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