Children in Papua New Guinea
A fair chance for every child
Children have always held an important place in the culture and traditions of Papua New Guinea. They are the source of group strengths, descent, identity and other kin-related values. They are the future of the tribe and the State, the embodiment of development, security and justice espoused in the country’s constitution.
In Papua New Guinea, children make up almost half of the country’s largely rural population. Despite the country’s abundant natural resources that has helped fuel the country’s rapid economic growth over the past decade, persistent poverty remains mostly in rural areas where 85 per cent of the population live.
While some progress has been made in health, education and other sectors, persistent challenges continue to deny children the full realization of their rights and hamper the delivery of quality basic services to a growing population.
PNG’s maternal mortality rate at 215 deaths per 100 thousand live births in the highest in the Pacific Region and second highest in the Asia Pacific region as is neonatal mortality at 57 deaths per 1,000 live births. Immunization coverage has plateaued at around 60 per cent for almost a decade. PNG has not eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of half of all under-five deaths. Almost half of children aged 6 to 59 months are stunted and approximately 16 per cent of children under five exhibit wasting.
In education, only 35 per cent of children complete primary education due to low school enrollment levels, low teaching quality and poor availability of inclusive education. Early childhood care and education is not currently part of the PNG national education system and the availability of inclusive education options are very low in the country.
Despite great traditions, violence against women and children and physical and sexual abuse of children are widely prevalent and a major threat to PNG’s development. The child protection system in the country is characterized by a lack of accurate information on all aspects of child care and protection and inadequate monitoring systems to track child protection issues.
A general lack of improved sanitation, safe drinking water and poor hygiene practices are the leading causes of communicable diseases in the country. PNG has the worst improved water supply coverage in the world, and improved sanitation coverage for PNG is the lowest in the Pacific Region.
PNG is highly disaster prone. Lying directly on the fault lines, it is extremely prone to earth quakes and volcanoes. Floods and land-slides are frequent while tsunamis, cyclones and earthquakes are occasional.