25 Feb 2004

Save the Children to expand health services to try and stop decline in PNG

4:12 pm on 25 February 2004

The NGO Save the Children says it is stepping up its services in Papua New Guinea after a rapid decline in the level of health care available there.

John Bowis, the Executive Director of Save the Children in New Zealand, says the decline follows retrenchments in the public service which international agencies such as the World Bank required before giving soft loans several years ago.

He says East Sepik province now has around 25 functioning health aid posts where once there were 300.

Mr Bowis says Save the Children health volunteers last year had 100 thousand consultations, but he says the decline cannot be reversed solely by NGOs.

He says in East Sepik, Save the Children is now working to fully co-ordinate its activities with both church and provincial government health services.

"the volunteers will deal with minor ailments, malaria, pneumonia perhaps, but also will do referrals of people who need to get professional assistance, so we see that as really being the way to get around the declining health service'"

John Bowis.