PRIVATE COMPANIES BOOST PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S HEALTH SECTOR
Developing health care standards and foreign investment in Papua New Guinea are expanding the business opportunities available to private sector healthcare providers. Since setting up in PNG nearly 20 years ago, International SOS has grown to become a major provider of medical and security assistance. It has are more than 400 staff in the country, with facilities including an international standard clinic, a medical response and evacuation team, and an emergency medical facility. International SOS PNG General Manager Bruce Clark said the company’s growth was backed by the increase in resources and related services companies entering the country. ‘Many of our global energy, mining and infrastructure clients were moving into PNG to invest in the country’s vast resources,’ Clark tells Business Advantage PNG. ‘In a country where healthcare standards are still developing, we have worked with companies to ensure the health and safety of their staff.’
Global trend ‘Private partnerships, where companies work with existing health providers to support and strengthen their operations, are part of a global trend,’ says Geoff Scahill, General Manager Private Sector Development, at Abt JTA. Abt JTA facilitates public-private programs between mining companies, government agencies and health care providers, offering health impact assessments, scoping studies, onsite health services, employee medical testing and hospital management.
Not just for specialists In PNG, private sector involvement in healthcare is not the sole preserve of healthcare specialists. Construction company Hornibrook NGI, for instance, owns a 56% share in the Lae International Hospital, which it founded 2009, providing services ranging from accident and emergency to obstetrics and paediatrics. In Southern Highlands Province, Oil Search Limited has achieved impressive results in malaria control, and has established a foundation to extend its health contribution to PNG.
What of the public sector? While there is no question that private services have grown partly due to the poor quality of PNG’S public health sector, the public system is making progress. The PNG Government has committed itself to free public healthcare in 2014, while major hospitals such as Port Moresby General Hospital are receiving more funding, with K1.4 billion committed to health spending in the country’s 2014 budget.
Public and private sector join forces A new initiative launched in late 2013 involves the private sector joining with health departments and provincial governments in a public health campaign to eradicate malaria in PNG by 2050. The PNG Industry Malaria Initiative (PIMI) brings together major resource operators to create public-private partnerships with their host provinces. Companies involved include Exxonmobil, New Britain Palm Oil, St Barbara, W R Carpenter and Newcrest Mining.