HEALTH SERVICES MINISTRY

PNG health indicators rated the health of the people of Sandaun Province where Aitape, Lumi and Nuku areas are part of as being one of the worse citing on the life expectancy at birth of 45.7 years compared to PNG's 54 years and infant mortality rate of 110 deaths per 1000 live births compared to PNG 73 deaths. Access to basic health services and high malnutrition rate are the lowest in PNG. Like education, the Diocese has been the earliest provider of basic health services to the people of the area dating it back to more than 100 years. Some of the infrastructure, facilities and services established and maintained currently by the Diocese includes:
* one Hospital (Raihu District Hospital) being the only hospital serving 81, 000 people of the area and other neighbouring population of Sandaun and East Sepik Provinces due to its quality of services;
* 3 Health Centres with 2 in the remote and populated areas of Lumi and Nuku providing health care to the people;
* 11 Health Sub-Centres with 7 in some of the remote areas and;
* 80 Aid Posts all throughout the Diocese in the villages supporting the Health Sub-Centres providing on-site health care for the people.

The Diocesan Health Services (DHS) is the largest entity of the Diocese and the only main program of the Diocese who has a plan. The Diocesan Health Plan has been the initiative of the Holland Government funding agency, CORDAID. CORDAID was involved with the Diocesan health services from 1998 tsunami disaster and remained committed to date. DHS was fortunate to receive single biggest funding for its programs from CORDAID through the first Diocesan Health Plan, 2002-2005, it facilitated and has given the second approved funding for the next Diocesan Health Plan, 2006-2008. Apart from this major funding the DHS also receive personnel grants from the PNG Government through the Catholic Bishop's Conference.

The DHS operates almost independently from the diocesan management, however remains an integral part of the Diocese through the DHS Board which is chaired by the Vicar for Health as Bishop's delegate. The Diocesan Manager is also a member of the Board and plays an important role in linking the diocesan management to the DHS.

Apart from the many achievements stated above, the analysis carried out on this main program identified the following issues of concern which have taken into account in the new plan:
* Diocesan Health Services is based on "Primary Health Care Model" by WHO
* Remote locations of Aid Posts makes it difficult for visits and supplies
* Shortage of qualified and experienced manpower
* Need for maintenance and improvement to existing infrastructure and facilities
* Limited financial resources to support operational costs
* Low health conditions of the people in the diocese
* Resources are limited and real per capita spending on health is declining
* Management of health system is insufficient
* Accessibility to basic health services is insufficient
* Community support for health services is poor