Papua New Guinea

Health challenges

The largest nation in the Pacific, PNG is classified as a low middle-income country. Close to 90 percent of the population live in rural areas and access to these widely scattered communities is often difficult, slow and expensive. Violence against women and achieving gender equality remain major challenges. The country is a signatory to the World Health Organization’s Millennium Development Declaration.

The major health problems currently affecting PNG according to the World Health Organization are:

  • Communicable diseases, with malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases, and acute respiratory disease the major causes of morbidity and mortality.

  • A generalised HIV epidemic driven mainly by heterosexual transmission.

  • Rates of infant and child mortality are high compared to other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

  • Maternal mortality remains very high.

Burnet’s work

For more than a decade, Burnet has addressed some of PNG’s critical health problems by implementing community-based programs using international development and public health principles. We have also undertaken social and clinical research, supporting the development of an improved evidence base to inform policy development.

Partnering with both government and non-government health agencies and regional research networks, we have focused on major health issues such as HIV, alcohol and other drugs use, sexual health, malaria, measles, birth dose vaccines, and maternal and child health. With our extensive experience in the field, Burnet has forged a strong understanding of the diversity and complexity of health programming in PNG.

In September 2012, Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Papua New Guinea’s Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Professor Sir Isi Kevau.

The MOU outlined locating the Institute’s Port Moresby office on the University’s campus, supporting the Public Health Program of the School and developing joint research activities.

“This MOU reflects our commitment to work closely with key local partners in PNG to help address some of the country’s most critical health issues,” Professor Crabb said.

Burnet’s head office in PNG is based in Kokopo, East New Britain.

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Past projects

Burnet completed its management of the AusAID-funded Tingim Laip HIV prevention project in 2010.

Our staff has also delivered:

  • national in-service training on women’s and children’s health
  • maternal and child health projects in remote areas along the Sepik River
  • improving responses to vaccine preventable diseases
  • a rapid assessment and response investigating the links between drugs, alcohol and HIV in PNG.

Current Projects

Past Projects



Section 90, Lot 1 Takubar, East New Britain Mailing: PO Box 1458, Kopoko Post Office
Kokopo, East New Britain
Papua New Guinea

Contact Details

For more information about our work in Papua New Guinea, please contact:

Mark Tennent

Chief Operating Officer & Director, Papua New Guinea