An efficient, comprehensive and effective health system is an essential pre-requisite to good health in any country. Unfortunately, the health system in PNG is beset with many problems, including such things as deteriorating infrastructure, an aging workforce, unreliable national health information and the difficulties inherent in providing health care to rural and remote populations.
Given these many challenges, the PNG National Health Plan (2011-2020) identifies ‘Health Systems Strengthening’ as a priority objective. The PHDU has established a Health Systems and Health Economics research section in support of this objective. The aim of this section is to conduct intra-disciplinary research that will directly inform health policy and planning at the national level.
PNGIMR’s PHDU emerged from the former Operational Research Unit and established in 2011. The unit’s mission is to conduct multi and inter-disciplinary research with the aims of understanding social changes and determinants of population health, providing evidence for policy development and guide the country’s responses to emerging population and health issues, thus, contributing to the sustainable development of PNG.
Current Research projects
The overall goal of the project is to contribute to reducing malaria morbidity and mortality in PNG through effective cooperation between the Australian, China and Papua New Guinea governments. Its two main aims project are; 1) to increase the quality of malaria diagnosis in PNG health services; and 2) to pilot effective cooperation between Australia, China and PNG. The project focuses on building capacity of two key national institutions in PNG, the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research and Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL). At PNGIMR operational research has been the focus of the project with continuous longitudinal surveillance data collection in four sentinel sites in PNG: Sausi in Madang province, Lemakot in the New Ireland Province, East Cape in Milne Bay Province and Karimui in the Chimbu Province. There are also other research activities currently being conducted such as the health facility surveillance of febrile illness, comparison of WHO-approved malaria rapid diagnostic tests, molecular diagnostics and point of care G6PD screening/testing. The project is funded by the Australian and Chinese government.
The CHESS research programme main task is to provide the Papua New Guinean National Government with an updated progressive report on the progress of important international and national health and socioeconomic development indicators like the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the PNG Vision 2050. The main goal of CHESS now is to create a nationwide monitoring and evaluation system to report on these development indicators by aligning itself with the PNG Medium Term Development Plan III, 2018 – 2022. The CHESS has been approved by the Medical Research Advisory Committee and has commenced operations in 2018 with direct funding from the Papua New Guinea National Government through the Department of National Planning and Monitoring.
SUNRISE is an international multi-country surveillance study of physical activities among children aged 4 years. The pilot phase is conducted in four selected countries, including Canada in North America (high income country), China in Asia (upper middle income country), South Africa (lower middle income country), and PNG in the Pacific (low income country) in the period 2018-2019. Funder: University of Wollongong, Australia among other research collaborators. The study aims at validating the WHO’s Global 24-hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years for monitoring of prevalence of overweight and obesity among children at the global, regional and country levels. PNG has been selected among 19 countries to continue the scale-up phase SUNRISE study in the period 2019-2020.
The project is a continuation of the Evaluation of the PNG NMCP project 2015-2017. The aim is to assess the impact and outcome of the NMCP.
There are four main activities that will be carried out under the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – New Funding Model:
- Malaria straticiation exercise – historic data and comtemporary malaria data will be used to stratify PNG into areas with different malaria burden requring distinct set of malaria control interventions;
- School malaria survey – to screen school aged children for malaria as a proxy indicator for ongoing local transmission of malaria. The survey is planned to be carried out this year;
- Country wide nation wide malaria indicator survey at the household level. The survey will commence towards the end of this year and continue to 2020; and
- Insecticide resistance monitoring in malaria mosquitoes – This project aims to test susceptibility of mosquitoes to insecticides, so that bednets distrubted by the malaria control program maintained effective.
The project is funded by the Global Fund to Fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM).