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Papua New Guinea is spending more on public health as a share of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) relative to comparator countries, yet health outcomes compare unfavorably, indicating the potential to improve the efficiency of the country’s health spending, according to a World Bank report presented in Port Moresby Wednesday.
The presentation focused on the need for investing effectively in, and delivering better value from, public health spending in PNG. The World Bank’s recently launched Papua New Guinea Economic Update, a new biannual series which aims to provide ongoing analysis of PNG’s economy, included a focus on the health sector.
“Investing in human capital development is vital to the well-being and productivity of the country,” said Patricia Veevers-Carter, World Bank Country Manager for Papua New Guinea, “Health and nutrition interventions–particularly early in life–improve long-term welfare, productivity, and earnings. Given its young population, PNG must put in the right policies and interventions now to unlock the full potential of future generations”.
While PNG’s public spending on health is comparatively high, outcomes are generally lower than in comparator countries, and the burden of poor health and malnutrition on the PNG economy and health system is large. The economic costs of child undernutrition alone were about 2.8 percent of GDP in 2016. A key recommendation from the health chapter of the report highlights the importance of increasing health spending efficiency and the need to prioritize basic health care services over the next few years. Noting low, and worrisome declines in rates of service coverage, the report highlights that strengthening frontline service delivery and improving quality of care can positively influence the demand for health care and outcomes.
“Ensuring that frontline services are financed adequately and in a timely manner will be critical to improving the efficiency of service delivery”, notes Tim Evans, Senior Director for Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice, World Bank Group, “Severe cash flow issues are a key constraint to effective service delivery and delays in fund flows are prevalent across all levels of government”.
The health discussion was presented in partnership with the Australian government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) through Abt PNG Management Services, and targeted at PNG health sector partners and policymakers from across the country.
The World Bank Group is significantly scaling up its work in PNG’s health sector, and is committed to continuing this support for the long term to the PNG government deliver a stronger health sector for all Papua New Guineans.
SOURCE: WORLD BANK/PACNEWS
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