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IRIN Examines Health Worker Shortage In Papua New Guinea

“Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a Pacific country rich in natural resources, yet its health staffing levels are comparable to the world’s poorest countries due to a rapidly retiring force and lack of qualified replacements,” IRIN reports. “Despite repeated warnings of the shortage, first at a 2002 national health conference, again in 2008 during a government health resources forum, and most recently by a 2011 World Bank report, the country still faces what the government calls a ‘drastic’ health worker shortage,” the news service writes, noting, “The World Bank report predicted a large decline in the ‘backbone of rural service delivery’ (nurses and midwives) — by up to half.” IRIN adds, “Rural health care is especially threatened, noted 2011 field research led by Care Australia and the Australian National University.” The news service notes, “Health experts say the shortage of qualified nurses is due to falling government support to nursing schools, starting in 1999, which has forced the closure of all but three of the eight public nursing schools” (3/14).