Our approach to health in Papua New Guinea

We’re partnering with communities in Papua New Guinea to improve maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition outcomes.

Health challenges in Papua New Guinea

In Papua New Guinea, there is low awareness of improved health and hygiene practices. Combined with difficulties accessing adequate health services and facilities due to remote locations and under-resourced health systems, this creates poor health outcomes.

The country’s infant mortality and childhood malnutrition rates are the highest in the Asia-Pacific region. A staggering 48 percent of all children show signs of growth stunting.

Health outcomes for pregnant and lactating women are also poor and, although on the decline, maternal mortality remains high.

Tuberculosis cases are the highest in the Pacific region and there has been a worrying increase in drug-resistant strains of the disease.

Poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, coupled with low awareness of healthy hygiene behaviours, also contributes to a high burden of illness and disease. 

Papua New Guinea health statistics


percent of women

give birth in a health facility


percent of TB cases

are children


percent of people

lack access to safe and clean drinking water

Our work in health and nutrition

With support from the Australian Government, we’re working to improve community health and nutrition in Papua New Guinea – particularly for mothers, newborns and children under five.

Increasing awareness of good health and nutrition is central to our approach. We work with local communities to educate them about the importance of eating a balanced diet, often staging cooking demonstrations using locally available ingredients.

World Vision Community Health Resource Persons also facilitate household visits and community awareness sessions to improve basic health knowledge. These provide parents with important information about everything from pregnancy care and newborn immunisation, through to awareness and treatment of infectious diseases.

Increasing access to essential health services is another key aspect of our approach. We provide pregnant and lactating women with access to vital perinatal care, and children and newborns receive important health and nutrition monitoring and support. Community Health Resource Persons also assist in providing timely patient referrals – increasing access to testing and treatment for diseases like HIV and malaria.

Much of our health work in Papua New Guinea also involves tackling tuberculosis. We’re partnering with the Papua New Guinea Heath Department, The Global Fund and the Australian Government to strengthen local health systems and provide appropriate treatment for people affected.

Papua New Guinea Health and Nutrition Project

Particularly focused on the health of mothers and children, our Papua New Guinea Health and Nutrition Project sought to improve community health and nutrition – and reduce incidences of HIV and other illnesses – over the period 2014-17.

Funded by the Australian Government, the project worked with communities in the National Capital District, Autonomous Region of Bougainville and Madang and Morobe Provinces to improve the health of 24,372 people.

We’re now working on the design of a new Australian Government-funded project: the Caring for Nutrition Project. Based in Port Moresby and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville over the period 2017-22, the project aims to further improve maternal and newborn child health and nutrition.

It prioritises community involvement and ownership at all stages to ensure sustainable outcomes:

  • increased adoption of recommended feeding and care practices for children under two;
  • increased men’s adoption of caregiving and gender-equitable practices; and
  • increased access to health services for pregnant and lactating women.

Papua New Guinea Health and Nutrition Project highlights



provided with access to essential medicine and treatments, including HIV treatment



trained as community health workers and birth attendants



in malnutrition across project locations



Bianke, a Community Health Resource Person, works with parents in her community to help improve awareness of good nutrition.

Improving child nutrition

Bianke is a World Vision Community Health Resource Person. She’s passionate about improving the health of people in her community – especially growing children.

Bianke believes a community bias towards foods high in sugar often means that children and families consume little else of nutritional value.

“We’ve noticed, that most of the time they eat more of the ‘energy food’ – once they eat it, then they feel like they are full. They don’t regard other foods as important,” she says.

In her role, Bianke also monitors the health of children in her community. She says that many underweight babies and children often do not consume enough protein.

Because of this, Bianke works with her community to help parents understand the value that different foods – like eggs and vegetables – offer to a balanced diet and how often to eat them. She also runs cooking classes and other workshops to demonstrate simple, nutritious recipes using locally available ingredients.

“The aim is to educate them. Once they realise that these other foods are important as well as the energy that they are taking, then that makes a difference,” she says. 

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