Australia Pledges $10 Million to Fight Polio in Papua New Guinea
Recently, the Australian government pledged $10 million to fight polio in Papua New Guinea. Australia’s contribution will go towards preventing the spread of infectious diseases and expanding the reach of vaccination campaigns. Earlier this year, the first case of polio since 2000 arose in Papua New Guinea. The government has declared the polio outbreak a national public health emergency. Since Australia is Papua New Guinea’s closest neighbor, the polio outbreak is a health threat to both countries. This shared interest spurred Australia’s decision to help contain Papua New Guinea’s polio outbreak.

Polio Around the World

Poliomyelitis, or more commonly known as polio, primarily targets children under the age of five. Polio is caused by a virus, which spreads primarily through contact between people. Though the first symptoms are relatively mild, as the infection spreads through the nervous system, it can lead to paralysis, which is the case in one out of every 200 infections. While there is no cure for polio, the disease is entirely preventable. If children receive the polio vaccine for the recommended amount of times, they can become immune to the virus.

Though the global incidences of polio have fallen by more than 99 percent since 1988, polio is still a public health threat to children around the world. According to The World Health Organization, if even one child still has polio, children in every country are at risk for contracting it. Unless polio is completely eradicated, there could be nearly 200,000 new cases of polio worldwide each year over the next 10 years. Because of polio’s highly infectious nature and the great health risks it brings, the international community must focus on vaccinating children worldwide.

An Outbreak of Polio in Papua New Guinea

For the past 18 years, Papua New Guinea was polio-free. Unfortunately, in April 2018, a young boy in Papua New Guinea’s northern region surfaced with symptoms consistent with polio, including lower limb paralysis. The following month, doctors diagnosed the boy with a vaccine-derived poliovirus type one. The single case worsened shortly afterward when stool samples from two children in the same neighborhood displayed the same strain of polio. The National Department of Health of Papua New Guinea and The World Health Organization both confirmed the diagnosis and Papua New Guinea’s polio outbreak.

In the Morobe province, where the first case emerged, only 60 percent of the children had received the approved three-dose polio vaccination cycle. Lack of proper sanitation and clean water also increased the risk of polio contagion in the area since the virus can spread through contaminated food or water. Immediately following the outbreak’s announcement, The National Department of Health, along with the World Health Organization and the Global Polio Eradication, introduced a large-scale immunization campaign.

Papua New Guinea’s Health Secretary, Pascoe Kase, underlined the importance of this vaccination campaign, saying the “immediate priority is to respond and prevent more children from being infected.” Moving forward, Papua New Guinea will work in conjunction with The World Health Organization to continue investigating the outbreak and enhancing the response efforts.

Fighting Polio in Papua New Guinea

Alongside other donors, such as The U.S., Canada and Papua New Guinea’s government, the Australian government hopes its $10 million donation will curb the current polio outbreak as well as prevent future infectious diseases. All these donations will benefit the country’s emergency vaccination campaign, totaling $21 million. The campaign hopes to vaccinate more than 3.3 million children in the country, with a special focus on children in densely populated areas.

With the donations from Australia, as well as other countries and organizations, the government of Papua New Guinea has enough funding to cover nearly all of the vaccination expenses. Dr. Mills in Euga province, who is also the president of The Society of Rural and Remote Health, remains hopeful that vaccination efforts will eradicate polio in Papua New Guinea once again.

In recent years, funding for immunizations had dropped, leaving many children vulnerable to polio. As he put it, “let’s hope [the outbreak] provides the impetus to refocus our attention on these basic things,” such as consistent vaccinations programs. He emphasizes that to prevent future polio outbreaks, methods of prevention and intervention must be a priority for Papua New Guinea.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr

Media Misrepresents Papua New Guinea
Western media often sensationalizes the unknown, and the country of Papua New Guinea – just over 90 miles north of Australia – has undoubtedly fallen victim of media sensationalism and stereotyping. The media misrepresents Papua New Guinea as a country with no development, little civilization and stereotypes the entire country as primitive and poor.

While a majority of the country is rural, Papua New Guinea is a developing economy with a steadily growing urban population, and the diverse population of the country is working to create a different image of Papua New Guinea in Western media.

Economic Growth

The economy of Papua New Guinea is heavily dependent on industry, mining and agriculture, notably timber, fish, coffee, cocoa and rubber. Agriculture currently accounts for 25 percent of GDP and supports more than 80 percent of the population. The media often disregards Papua New Guinea as a country with extremely little economic growth.

However, this is a misrepresentation of the country since the economy is continuing to develop and offer more people the opportunity to make more money. In addition, export opportunities from increased mineral and energy extraction have offered more trade and economic influx in the country.

The GDP of Papua New Guinea has experienced some of the highest growth in the world, largely due to energy extraction sector developments. In 2015, the GDP experienced 10.5 percent growth and has continued to steadily increase at a rate of two percent since then. The media misrepresents Papua New Guinea by stereotyping the country to have no real economic change; in reality, Papua New Guinea is beginning to develop more rapidly.


The media misrepresents Papua New Guinea as being stuck in the forest with little desire and opportunity to urbanize. While urbanization has been a challenge in Papua New Guinea due to the extremely dense forest and lack of infrastructure, this developing economy has led to more attention to urbanization.

The media, though, does not discuss such large strides towards infrastructure development. The World Bank’s Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project has restored more than 800 kilometers of national roads and plans to continue with its reparations. In addition, rehabilitated and replaced bridges have benefitted an estimated 1.3 million people, or about 27 percent of the population.

While a majority of the population lives in rural areas of the country, globalization and the development of cities like Lae and the capital Port Moresby have led to an increase in urbanized population in Papua New Guinea. In 1960, only 3.75 percent of the population lived in urban areas of the country; contrastingly, approximately 13 percent of the population lived in urbanized areas in 2016.


The media misrepresents Papua New Guinea as a nation lacking diversity and constantly at war between a handful of tribes. In reality, the country is extremely ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse. Although only 7 million people live in Papua New Guinea, the country’s 820 languages spoken give it the world’s highest level of language diversity.

In addition to language isolates, English and English-based languages like Hiri Motu and Tok Pisin are commonly spoken between people throughout the country. Tok Pisin, an English Creole, is understood by over 50 percent of the population, and English is a lingua franca.

While there are thousands of tribes in Papua New Guinea, the media misrepresents the ways in which tribes interact with one another. Most tribes actually work together and are peaceful with each other, and showcase this annually through gatherings that emphasize the nation’s diversity called Sing Sings.

During Sing Sings, like in Mount Hagen or Goroka, as many as 100 different tribal groups come together to practice their different cultures, and the custom has continued for more than 60 years as a way to promote peaceful interactions between tribes.

A New Perspective

Although Papua New Guinea is a poor and largely undeveloped country, the media misrepresents and misconstrues the country as a lawless, tribal jungle with little economic growth and even less diversity. Despite this common perception, the economy of Papua New Guinea continues to grow — they’ve experienced a remarkable improvement in GDP, urbanization and globalization have catalyzed development within even rural areas of the country, and tribes in the country are largely peaceful and extremely diverse.

As a country whose motto is “Unity and Diversity,” Papua New Guineans have utilized their diverse cultural and physical landscape to make positive changes in their country. Now, it’s up to the media and the world to truly understand all that Papa New Guinea is and can be.

– Matthew Cline
Photo: Flickr

Polio in Papua New Guinea
A polio outbreak was reported in Papua New Guinea. This is the first time polio has been seen in the country in nearly two decades, and an especially poignant occurrence as polio is extremely close to eradication around the world.

What is Polio?

Polio is a dangerous virus spread through food, water and contact with infected people. Those who do not have access to adequate sanitation are especially vulnerable to the virus.

Polio multiplies in the intestines but can move to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and affect the nervous system. This can lead to paralysis. The poliovirus has no cure once contracted, so the only route to the end of polio is through vaccination and other methods of prevention.

How Do You Treat Polio?

There are two forms of vaccination against the polio virus, but oral poliovirus vaccines (OPVs) are the vaccine predominantly used across the world today. OPVs are inexpensive, at a maximum of $0.18 for countries supplied by UNICEF in 2016.

They also are easy-to-use as they are administered orally. Such facility means that the vaccine does not need trained healthcare personnel or sanitized syringes for application.

Polio in Papua New Guinea

The strain of polio in Papua New Guinea is known as vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1. This form of poliovirus is caused by a mutation of the weakened version of the polio virus used in the oral vaccine. The weakened version of the virus stays inside the person who has received the vaccine for several weeks. During this period of time, the body excretes the virus.

In areas with poor sanitation, the vaccine virus can be transferred from person-to-person and can also pass on a passive immunization to others in the community. However, if there is low immunization in a region, the virus can continue transferring for an extended period of time. This spread can lead to mutations in the virus and, in extremely rare cases, the virus can become neurovirulent again in what is called a vaccine-derived poliovirus.

Morobe Province and Prevention Methods

Within the Morobe Province — the region of Papua New Guinea where the virus outbreak was found — only 61 percent of the children had received the three doses of the oral polio vaccine recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). This lack of immunization in conjunction with the lack of adequate sanitation increases the spread of the virus and the danger of the outbreak.

WHO, the National Department of Health, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and other groups are working alongside the government of Papua New Guinea to contain the virus. Since the confirmation of an outbreak of polio in Papua New Guinea, several large-scale measures have been put into place to prevent any further spread of the disease.

These measures include extensive immunization of those in the region where the virus has been detected, especially for children under the age of 15, and increasing surveillance measures in order to detect any new cases of polio. Plans have also been established to employ more immunization campaigns in the coming weeks.

International Aid

Global efforts to eradicate the polio virus were launched in 1988. Since that time, polio incidence has dropped by 99 percent across the world. The wild poliovirus only remains endemic in three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. In 2017, there were 22 cases of wild poliovirus and 96 cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus.

This dangerous disease is close to global eradication; however, the outbreak of polio in Papua New Guinea shows that the virus remains a danger in areas with insufficient sanitation and lack of adequate vaccinations. Organizations across the world continue to fight to keep everyone safe and to end the poliovirus once and for all.

– Lindabeth Doby
Photo: Google

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a country rich in mineral, agricultural, forestry and fishery resources. The country suffers from weak governance, corruption, limited capacity to deliver basic services, a deterioration of its health system and a concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemic among key populations. 

With the help of U.S. bilateral and multilateral assistance, Papua New Guinea has experienced recent economic progress based around its abundant energy, agricultural and mineral resources. As a result, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea as well.

For the 2017 fiscal year, U.S. aid to Papua New Guinea totaled $9.1 million. The largest areas of focus included strengthening HIV/AIDS services for more at-risk populations ($3.5 million), disaster readiness ($3.5 million) and general climate protection through the Pacific-American Climate Fund ($1.6 million).

Providing the opportunity for stability in impoverished countries strengthens their stability and benefits the U.S. through contributing to trade and foreign relations. 

Trade a Key Way the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Papua New Guinea

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea through trade relations. In 2016, the U.S. had a trade surplus with Papua New Guinea of $35 million. U.S. goods exports to Papua New Guinea totaled $127 million in 2016, while U.S. goods imports totaled $92 million. Key U.S. exports included machinery and mechanical appliances, cereals and aircraft.

The major U.S. exports to Papua New Guinea are petroleum and mining machinery and aircraft. Imports to the U.S. from Papua New Guinea include gold, copper ore, cocoa, coffee and other agricultural products. 

Additionally, through the U.S.-Pacific Islands Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, Papua New Guinea is able to access U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for a license fee from the U.S. industry.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea through foreign relations. The United States and Papua New Guinea meet through a mutual membership in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). APEC facilitates trade and investment, economic growth and regional cooperation. It serves as the leading forum in the Asia Pacific community and focuses on developing and strengthening the multilateral trading system, increasing the interdependence of member economies and promoting sustainable economic growth in the region. 

APEC’s work is non-binding, meaning that decisions are made based on consensus and commitments are taken voluntarily. APEC has contributed to the reduction of barriers to trade, such as tariffs, which has led to the expansion of economic growth and international trade in the region.

U.S. Promote Good Governance in Papua New Guinea

In addition to APEC, the United States and Papua New Guinea have a history of close partnership. The two countries work together to combat issues such as improving transparency and good governance, fighting human trafficking, restraining the effects of climate change, protecting fisheries, improving public health and promoting gender equality. The militaries of both the U.S. and Papua New Guinea have a cooperative security assistance relationship that focuses on joint humanitarian exercises and the training of Papua New Guinean military personnel.

Papua New Guinea and the U.S. belong to several of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Pacific Community and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program.

The U.S. aims to improve countries around the world by supporting them with foreign aid. Countries such as Papua New Guinea have shown that the money provided to them has strengthened their economic conditions, and in turn, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea through trade and foreign relations. 

– Anne-Marie Maher
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in Papua New Guinea
Just north of Australia in a region known as Melanesia is the island nation of Papua New Guinea, situated on the eastern side of New Guinea island. It’s one of the most culturally diverse nations on the world stage, but it’s also among the most rural with an economy that largely turns on agriculture.

Sustainable agriculture in Papua New Guinea is crucial to lifting more of its population from poverty. The Asian Development Bank reports that 39.9 percent of the country’s population lived below the national poverty line in 2009.

Agriculture: The Stats

According to the World Bank, just 18 percent of Papua New Guineans live in urban areas, so farming would seem to make sense as an economic lifeline. However, the New Agriculturist notes that the nation is very mountainous, leaving just 25 percent of its land suitable for agriculture.

This presents a significant problem when it comes to developing sustainable agriculture projects in Papua New Guinea; but thankfully, new technologies stand to make a difference and boost agricultural output in the island nation.

Solar-Powered Milling Technology

According to the Papua New Guinea National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), a solar-powered rice-milling technology is being pioneered in the Morobe province; this trial began in 2017 and should continue through 2019.

This technology’s potential lies in the fact that rice has become a staple food in Papua New Guinea since its introduction about a century ago. However, it has never become a staple crop because natural milling conditions are less than ideal.

Solar-powered mills aim to replace diesel-powered ones, which are more expensive to operate and repair. If solar power proves to be a more reliable and efficient technology, rice milling and other forms of farming will likely see an expansion and provide more support to rural communities.

Boosting Sustainable Agriculture in Papua New Guinea: More Successes

This test run joins a host of efforts to improve sustainable agriculture in Papua New Guinea, including the Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP), which tried to benefit smallholder cocoa and coffee producers when it started in 2014.

PPAP aims to boost industry coordination, build links between local farmers and agribusiness for improved access to markets/technologies and improve infrastructure for that access. The World Bank estimates that more than 20,000 local coffee and cocoa farmers had benefitted by 2015, and farms adopting improved farming practices continues to grow.

Future Benefits

Hopefully, sustainable agriculture projects in Papua New Guinea will make farming more economical and reduce poverty levels as more citizens are able to engage with the career. Future improvements also stand to benefit women especially, who often form the backbone of the Papua New Guinea agricultural industry.

– Chuck Hasenauer
Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea is just north of Australia and is home to 8.1 million people. With some 600 islands and a topography that rises from sea level to 4500 meters, improving infrastructure in Papua New Guinea is a significant challenge, especially in rural areas.

Paved roads are unequally distributed across Papua New Guinea (PNG), which creates a disparity in the economic opportunities available to the entire population. Coastal shipping services and aviation are common attempts to overcome these network gaps, but they are not cost-effective.

PNG’s National Transport Strategy considers maintenance and creation of paved roads its highest priority. PNG contains approximately 22,000 kilometers of roads, with the national road network comprised of 8738 kilometers of roads, only 40 percent of which are sealed.

Rural access to roads is limited, with only 68 percent of the rural population living within two kilometers of an all-season road. There are no main highways between the country’s biggest city, Port Moresby, and the Highland region, which is home to nearly half of the population.

Papua New Guinea also has the lowest national water coverage of the Pacific region. This is a significant challenge for infrastructure in Papua New Guinea, as only the Marshall Islands has a lower percentage of piped coverage.

In November, PNG and the China Railway Group signed agreements for three projects worth around $4 billion, a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. These agreements will upgrade 1,600 kilometers of highways and set PNG on a good pace toward developing a modern road network.

Also included in the deal is a $32 million project to improve water supply to PNG’s Eastern Highlands Province. Water supply is a major problem of infrastructure in Papua New Guinea, with 60 percent of the population living without a safe water supply. Papua New Guinea has the poorest access to clean water in the world, according to a study released by World Water Day.

Henry Northover, head of policy for WaterAid, said “This is not always an issue of scarcity—by and large we are dealing with a distributional crisis. It is fixable with clear and coherent government policies, and with the focused support of international agencies.”

The Water Supply and Sanitation Development Project is an initiative of the government of Papua New Guinea. It was formally agreed to in a ceremony marking World Water Day 2017, and the $70 million project will deliver access to clean and reliable water supply services for tens of thousands of people living in nine provincial towns and 10 rural districts.

These recent projects bode well for the future growth of infrastructure in Papua New Guinea. Continued focus on these areas can bring access to critical infrastructure to all of the nation’s people.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

Achieving gender equality is a common challenge for developing nations. This is certainly the case in Papua New Guinea, where a majority of women and girls are victims of violence. Authorities in Papua New Guinea have historically turned a blind eye to violence against women. However, countless organizations are working to make women’s empowerment in Papua New Guinea a reality.

In 2013, Papua New Guinea passed the Family Protection Act to protect women and children against domestic violence. Unfortunately, the parameters of the act are rarely upheld due to a largely corrupt police force. Authorities often charge illegitimate fees before acting, which most women cannot afford. Corruption makes women’s rights difficult to protect at the government level, so aid organizations and NGOs have had to step in.

The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) has many goals, including bettering the treatment of women and children in the developing world. Government involvement by women is discouraged in Papua New Guinea, but since the UNDP’s intervention, three women have been elected to Papua New Guinea’s parliament. Twenty women have been elected to serve in local government positions, finally giving women a political voice.

Forty percent of men in Papua New Guinea are employed in the formal sector versus only 24 percent of women. These few employed women earn only half the salary that men make. Since 2015, U.N. Women has sought economic justice for women in Papua New Guinea by improving local markets via the Safe City Program. Eighty percent of market vendors in Papua New Guinea are women, and 55 percent of these women have experienced sexual violence and other forms of exploitation, such as robbery.

By creating a vendors’ association and a mobile bill-paying system, the Safe City Program is making markets safer for women. Dark public toilets were once areas of rampant sexual violence, but the Safe City Program has remodeled outdoor markets to be more organized and have better lighting in order to discourage violence. In new, safer markets, women have the opportunity to pursue economic empowerment.

Papua New Guinean women created and run Meri Toksave, an organization seeking gender equality in their country. Meri Toksave means “information for women” in Tok Pisin, the language spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. The goal of this group is just that: provide women with the knowledge to achieve women’s empowerment in Papua New Guinea. In 2014, Meri Toksave created the “Directory of Emergency Services for Those Affected by Family and Sexual Violence,” which was distributed across the entire country.

While nationwide discrimination often stifles the fight for women’s rights, gender equality in Papua New Guinea is possible and necessary. Through the efforts of local women and with the help of aid organizations, women’s empowerment in Papua New Guinea is taking shape. Women are serving in government positions and safely seeking economic betterment in larger numbers than ever before, and hopefully even larger numbers in years to come.

– Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

Why is Papua New Guinea Poor?
Papua New Guinea, the name given to a group of islands situated in the southwest Pacific ocean, has experienced tremendous economic growth since its days of being an Australian colony, and has gone on to hold elections involving the indigenous population. Despite this, however, many people on the island still experience extremes of poverty. 80 percent of Papua New Guinea’s people live in rural communities with little to no modern conveniences, and 39.9 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. So, why is Papua New Guinea poor, despite economic growth? Here’s a brief look at some of the reasons behind this.


Why is Papua New Guinea Poor? 3 Simple Reasons


Income inequality
In 1996, the Gini index rated Papua New Guinea’s income inequality as 55.43 on its scale from 0-1, with 0 being perfectly equal (for comparison, the U.S. was rated around 45 on the scale in 2007). The evidence would seem to suggest that this inequality is due to the failure of economic growth to keep up with population growth, but could also have been caused by structural adjustment policies that came about along with rapid economic growth. Whatever the reason, it is clear that income equality has led to much greater poverty within Papua New Guinea. The good news is that this inequality has gone down significantly since the 1990s: In 2009, Papua New Guinea scored a 43.88 on the Gini scale.

Lack of long-term planning
Many citizens are critical of the fact that the government of Papua New Guinea has had little to no plan in place to modernize the country, which would include steps like building permanent houses, supplying water and sanitation and building infrastructure. The government, instead, acts reactively, creating short-term solutions only when it is absolutely necessary. For example, in 2002, Papua New Guinea faced an incredibly violent and chaotic election, but it was not until 2004 that police were deployed to fight this rampant violence. This lack of planning makes it difficult for real progress to be made in terms of poverty.

Why is Papua New Guinea poor? Perhaps the biggest contributor to Papua New Guinea’s continuing poverty problem is the fact that so many government officials, in charge of funds that could help, have historically chosen to pocket the money instead. Michael Somare, prime minister of Papua New Guinea from 1975 to 2011, faced charges of political misconduct and misappropriation of funds spanning over 20 years, while in 2014, Paul Tiensten, former senior minister and later MP, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for misappropriating over $1 million. Somare’s replacement as prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has also been accused of political misconduct involving a loan of $1.3 billion.

So, why is Papua New Guinea poor? In short, because of income inequality, aggravated by years of poor planning and corruption by the government. To correct this problem, new measures will need to be taken to outline and enforce government oversight and the proper use of government funds. Thankfully, awareness has risen about these issues over the past few years. During the last election, many people in Papua New Guinea protested and called for Peter O’Neill to resign after more corruption allegations were brought to light. And while O’Neill still won re-election, the fact that these protests exist shows that the citizens of Papua New Guinea are beginning to demand more from their politicians, hopefully a first step in strengthening the government and using it to enact real change.

Audrey Palzkill

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a small country in Oceania, just north of Australia. While PNG has enjoyed the benefits of economic improvement due to extractive industries, more than 40 percent of its population of six million live in poverty. Across government corruption, abuse of female rights, inhumane conditions for asylum seekers, police brutality, lack of minority rights and prosecution for sexual orientation and gender identity, the state of human rights in Papua New Guinea is severely lacking.

Police abuse is rampant in PNG, and, between 2007 and 2014, a total of 1,600 complaints regarding police brutality were logged by the Internal Affairs Directorate. The government has yet to release how many of these cases resulted in judicial proceedings. Since 2014, the Anti-Corruption Directorate has held a warrant for the arrest of Prime Minister O’Neill, but in April 2016 the Supreme Court dismissed the suit. As a direct result, in June 2016, police forces shot at University of Papua New Guinea students for peacefully protesting government corruption. Over thirty people were injured.

The United Nations has not overlooked such violations of human rights in Papua New Guinea. In May 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a 687-page World Report. The report was critical of PNG’s government and its authoritarian actions.

Police aggression and abuse have also reportedly been highly gendered, with PNG remaining one of the worst in the world for its rates of family and sexual violence. A study conducted by The Lancet in 2013 reported that 41 percent of people on Bougainville Island admitted to raping a non-partner. This statistic neither includes other parts of PNG nor accounts for marital rape. The normalization of these actions has prevented aggressive prosecution of perpetrators or prosecution of these men by police and judiciaries. In fact, the Human Rights Watch notes that police demand “fuel money” from victims before considering their cases any further.

The government has failed to rally legislative or judicial action against gender-based corruption and coercion, and much of it is deeply ingrained in the different cultures of PNG. Historically, violent groups of people have attacked individuals and families for alleged acts of witchcraft. The normalization of severely violating human rights in Papua New Guinea requires serious action but proves difficult because of cultural complexities.

Undoubtedly, there is no simple solution in breaking cultural and national norms. The nuanced approach towards fighting against governmental corruption and gender-based violence, among many other human rights issues, requires federal and community-level strategies.

Sydney Nam

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is an island nation situated in the Pacific, north of Australia. As of 2010, 88 percent of the roughly eight million people living in Papua New Guinea live in rural areas. Despite the country’s plentiful natural resources, many people lack access to basic services such as roads, electricity and healthcare.

Because of the alarming scarcity of resources and support, the most common diseases in Papua New Guinea can disproportionately harm the country’s incredibly diverse populace.

Without access to basic infrastructure, many people in Papua New Guinea do not have access to clean food or water. This puts people at risk of contracting diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid or cholera. Additionally, parasitic insects native to Papua New Guinea’s tropical climate can spread malaria and Japanese encephalitis, a disease which can cause fever, vomiting, brain swelling or even death.

These common diseases in Papua New Guinea are preventable and treatable with adequate vaccinations, medicine and access to clean food and water. Unfortunately, the almost entirely rural population of Papua New Guinea does not have access to any of these measures.

In addition to these diseases, Papua New Guinea struggles with an ongoing epidemic of HIV/AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) is currently working with other U.S. agencies to provide advice and technical support to Papua New Guinea to help manage this outbreak.

Furthermore, Papua New Guinea has experienced an outbreak of the Zika virus, a disease which can cause birth defects. Like malaria, this serious ailment is spread by mosquitoes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been monitoring the situation in Papua New Guinea and ensuring that the virus does not become a larger threat to surrounding regions since March of 2016.

Overall, common diseases in Papua New Guinea are generally basic, preventable and treatable diseases that are common in other lower-middle and low-income countries around the world. However, the significant lack of development and infrastructure, as well as the country’s primarily rural population, make it difficult to manage these diseases. Worse still, diseases such as HIV/AIDS and the Zika virus also have a major impact on the country.

In order for Papua New Guinea to more effectively fight disease, the country needs to build up its infrastructure and services. If Papua New Guinea can receive strong international support in growing its economy, it may be able to develop the infrastructure and provisions it needs to save lives.

Isidro Rafael Santa Maria

Photo: Flickr