Award winning journalist, Jo Chandler, takes a brutally honest look at Papua New Guinea’s health crisis on the eve of the most important APEC meetings.
“…All over the country, there are symptoms of a profound public health emergency; young and old are getting sick and dying unnecessarily, while facilities lack basic medicines and equipment.
Doctors and experts say the unfolding crisis is the realization of their worst fears after years of deterioration and neglect.
“We were expecting something like this,” Dr. Anup Gurung, a public health specialist with the World Health Organization, said of the polio outbreak at a news conference in the capital, Port Moresby, in September.
He pointed to the erosion of vaccination rates, which are down to 30 percent in some parts of the country. “It’s like someone lit a paper castle where everything is on fire,” he said.
Officials in Papua New Guinea hope thathosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC,meeting in Port Moresby will elevate the country’s international profile, but the health crisis has become an embarrassment for a nation with an abundance of gold, copper, silver, oil and gas.