Children in PNG

Child Protection


Health, nutrition, water and sanitation



Health, nutrition, water and sanitation

A child is immunised
© UNICEF, 2008, Khoi Cao-Lam


Papua New Guinea’s children need more support to ensure their basic health and nutrition needs are met and their chances of survival are increased. 85 per cent of the country’s six million people live in geographically isolated areas, this coupled with financial and cultural barriers mean many children do not have access to basic health services, clean water and sanitation equipment, leaving them vulnerable to malnutrition and preventable diseases.

• under-five mortality rate 75/1000
• maternal mortality rate 733/100,000
• 3.5 million people in PNG do not have access to safe water and drinking facilities

UNICEF is working across Papua New Guinea to help improve the health of children and women. UNICEF’s partnership in the health programme is facilitated through the Sector-wide Approach, known in Papua New Guinea as the Health sector Improvement Programme (HSIP), under the leadership of the National Department of Health. Through this partnership UNICEF contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 4, the reduction of child mortality, Goal 5, the improvement of maternal health and MDG 7, ensure environmental sustainability.


Basic health services
Community health workers are under-trained and need training on the implementation of specific activities.

Immunization Coverage
 At present immunization coverage is 53 per cent and many children continue to suffer from preventable diseases. UNICEF is supporting national immunization programmes and aims to increase the coverage to 80 per cent by 2012.

Micronutrient deficiency
Many children under five continue to suffer from micronutrient deficiency which leads to stunting in young children. Malnutrition is largely affecting children 11-24 months of age because of too early introduction of complementary feeding, infrequent feeding and feeding of low nutrient density food.

Anemia high in women and children under 5 years old
High levels of anemia during pregnancy can cause complications. UNICEF supports the need for weekly iron supplements for all women of reproductive age.

Supervised deliveries and antenatal coverage
Less than four out of every five pregnant women who have access to  anetanatal care which is important for identifying early interventions to maximise good outcomes for the mother and her baby. Only 53  percent of pregnant women deliver their babies under supervision of skilled health workers. UNICEF supports the overall goal of increasing the antenatal  coverage to over 80 percent and supervised delivery to 60 percent.

UNICEF in action

Child Health
• The DTP-Hep B- Hib vaccine is now fully integrated into the National Department of Health’s routine immunization schedule, with all vaccines being obtained through UNICEF procurement services.
• UNICEF supports further implementation of the Health Villages concept  in 3 highland provinces which will include the training of 60 Village Health volunteers.
• Coverage of the first dose of Vitamin A increased from one per cent in 2004 when supplementation was initiated, to 69 per cent in 2006.
• By 2009, 83.4% of all children aged between six months and six years were vaccinated against measles.

Maternal health

• Since 2004,  UNICEF has provided funds to establish four of the eight Maternity Waiting Houses (MWH) currently operating in Papua New Guinea.

• By 2009, in response to the high maernal mortality ratio, UNICEF as a member of the Joint nited Nations team contributed to the secretariat of the Ministerial Task Force on Maternal Health.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nutrition
• In September 2009, the existing policy on recommended period of exclusive breastfeeding from extended from 4 months to 6 months, bringing Papua New Guinea in line with international standards.
Water and Sanitation Improvements
• Between 2008 and 2010, with funding from the European Union, 220 latrines, 89 rainwater tanks and nine gravity fed water supply systems were installed in 24 schools, 21 health facilities and 12 villages, providing increased access to safe water and improved sanitation to 13,000 children and 10,000 people..
• During Papua New Guinea’s recent cholera outbreak in the provinces, technical advice, supplies and funds were provided to the provincial health department to carry out water disinfection campaigns and latrine construction in affected areas. UNICEF also assisted by assisting in the communication of important messages to beneficiaries through the mass media and outreach programmes.

© UNICEF, 2004, Pirrozi
A midwife and a young pregnant mother in the Trobriand Islands of Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea.



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