Australia looks for PNG health partnership

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An Australian delegation is shining a spotlight on health in Papua New Guinea as Canberra works to strengthen ties with its northern neighbour.

A multi-party delegation of MPs, including the opposition foreign affairs, health and Pacific spokespeople, three Labor MPs and independent Sophie Scamps are in the Pacific nation for a five-day trip.

Pacific Friends of Global Health said the trip would provide the parliamentarians – some of whom have medical backgrounds – with insights into the serious health challenges PNG is facing.

“We want to explore how we can boost these sort of effective partnerships with PNG to ensure we tackle some of these really pressing health challenges,” chairman Brendan Crabb said.

Labor MPs Mike Freelander and Michelle Ananda-Rajah, as well as Dr Scamps, are doctors.

Dr Scamps said, as a former health professional, she was visiting the Pacific nation to help understand the pertinent health issues and deepen the bilateral relationship.

“It’s in our interests that PNG, a 45-minute flight from Cairns, is thriving and healthy yet right now PNG has some of the worst health outcomes in the world,” she told AAP.

“PNG suffers from high levels of malaria, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and high levels of HIV transmission from mothers to new babies.”

The parliamentarians will travel to Goroka on Tuesday after visiting a healthcare centre in the capital Port Moresby.

They will meet with Goroka’s provincial health administration, workers in the region’s HIV program and family and sexual violence centre on Wednesday.

They will then visit an immunisation clinic on Thursday before travelling back to the capital to meet with the high commissioner to PNG, Jon Philp.

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