Minister of Health

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The Hon Sir Dr. Puka Temu, KBE, CMP, MP


The Health Ministry in Papua New Guinea is looked after by the Minister of Health. Since 2017-2022, Hon Sir Dr.Puka Temu has been the Minister of Health . "I urge you all to be united in Spirit, wear your tag as implementers, and take long and calculated strides into the districts.

Allow the vision, goals and objectives of the National Health Plan, the PNG Development Stragetic Plan and Vision 2050 illuminate your paths" .Minister Hon Sir Dr. Puka Temu's words at the dedication service of the Department of Health, held at the AOPI Centre Building, Waigani Drive with the theme, 'Going Back to basic'.

Minister's Press Statement



Mr. President and Vice Presidents, Dr. Margaret Chan Director General of WHO, Fellow Ministers, other UN Agencies and global NGOs and Civil society organizations.

Together with the other countries I express sympathy to China and Myanmar for the destruction and lives lost due to the natural disasters affecting each of the two countries.

I acknowledge the challenge provided to us by Dr. Chan at the Commonwealth Ministers meeting for all of us to work together for world health, together address global vulnerability and work together for the good humanity.

I acknowledge that Papua New Guinea has some of the worst health indicators in the Asia Pacific region. As the new Minister responsible for Health and HIV/AIDS, I am committed to doing everything I can to reverse the poor health indicators and to reverse the spread of HIV in the country. When taking up office as Minister for Health 7 months ago I had decided to focus my attention on Primary Health care.

PNG has a population growth of 2.7%. HIV has become a generalized epidemic, in the country, communicable diseases are prevalent and non-communicable diseases are emerging. Global warming is already having impact on small island atolls and malaria is bound to become prevalent in higher altitudes of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 87% of my country’s population of 6.2 million people live in rural areas. Only 3% of roads are paved and many villages can only be reached on foot. Most travel between provinces is by air. The capital, Port Moresby, is not linked by road with the rest of the country. Overall the national geography and difficulties in communication makes the delivery of health services very challenging. PNG has over 800 different tribes and just attained independence 33 years ago. Given this complexity and need for us to impact on the poor health indicators we must focus on strengthening health systems.

We know that maternal mortality is a proxy to measuring access to services and the quality of the health system in any country. Noting this I acknowledge the major and complex health challenges in Papua New Guinea. I have made it my business to refocus attention on Primary Health care and doing something about these major challenges.

The health sector is responsible for one national referral hospital, 18 provincial hospitals, 68 district hospitals or major health centres and all provincial health authorities throughout the country.

There is no reliable communication between hospitals, major health facilities and health system managers. We do not have links to internet services to keep in touch with our international contacts.

Our hospitals and major health facilities, administrators and research instructions operate in isolation affecting effective service delivery and impacting on health outcomes.

I am committed to reforming the health sector so that it is cost effective, accountable and transparent. I see modernising and bridging the IT gap for my country as an important tool for improving health systems management.

Upon returning from the 61st World Health Assembly I will launch our new health sector corporate plan. I have also introduced a National Health Week which will focus on action to address priority health problems as part of our drive to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

A few months ago I set up a Task Force to look into our chronic drug supply problems. The task force findings are being implemented. I believe that with improved technology and the planned development of PNG Health Net my department will be able to ensure that the drug supplies system is effective and we are able to monitor all stocks and ensure quality of drugs.

I am also restructuring the National Department of Health to enable it to focus on its core roles and responsibilities and develop effective means to support the provinces (the implementation arms of the government) within a decentralized system of governance.

Over the years we have not been able to fully account for and keep an accurate track of the health workers throughout the country. In July this year the Department will conduct its annual health conference which will focus on human resources planning and management.

Sunday’s meeting of the Commonwealth Ministers of health discussions focusing on e-health provided the additional impetus for us in PNG to build PNG Health Net and develop e-health strategies as part of the reform process. I hope that by so doing we are able to reform the health system so that it is transparent accountable and effective in service provision to the rural majority and the urban poor in Papua New Guinea.

Mr President Fellow Ministers ladies and gentlemen, before I conclude I want to raise a unique challenge my country faces resulting from the global demand for national resources and the exploitation of them. Environmental damages directly due to exploitation of these resources are expected to have significant public health impact on the lives of the majority of my people if the process of resource exploitation is not managed well.

Finally, we are committed to the Paris Deceleration and have for some time implemented the sector wide approach. However despite this we have noted a tendency to create parallel systems and wish to call on all our partners to be sensitive and to support us to strengthen our systems. Building our capacity will ensure that our partners have trust and confidence in our systems so they are able to work through existing government systems.

We are grateful for the support of the World Health Organization over the years and all our multilateral and bilateral agencies and commit ourselves to ongoing partnership in health and development.