Country Information

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has the largest population in the Pacific – more than 8 million people spread out over more than 150 islands (WHO,2016). Life expectancy at birth is 68 for females and 64 for males (WHO, 2016), and the infant mortality rate is 48 per 1000 live births (WHO,2018). While significant improvements in some health indicators have taken place over the past 10 years, access to specialist services are still extremely restricted due to lack of trained personnel, and hampered by challenging terrain and poor infrastructure.

Program History

Interplast has been working in Papua New Guinea (PNG) since 1985, with a focus on surgical service and plastic and reconstructive surgical training. Training and surgical teams have included visits to Port Moresby, Mt Hagen, Madang, Alotau, Wewak, Rabaul, Bougainville and Lae.

Specialist training is a long-term undertaking in PNG and Interplast is assisting to fill the shortage of specialist services by sending plastic and reconstructive surgery teams to assist with the overwhelming caseload of patients and to train local health practitioners in PNG.

Most local surgeons work as general surgeons with a small number specialising.

While there has been some progress towards developing local capacity to provide reconstructive plastic surgery services in recent years, with a population of over 8 million, PNG is still a long way from having the local capacity to meet the demands of the large numbers of patients that continue to be identified for treatment. Progress is slow, as currently just one surgeon is selected at a time to train in head and neck/plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Interplast programs in PNG have also included specific training in early burns management, nursing, and physiotherapy and pain management.

Current Programs

In the 2019/20 financial year, Interplast plans to deliver a number of programs in PNG, including multiple surgical mentoring and nurse education activities in Port Moresby , as well as surgical programs planned to various provincial areas, Mondang, Lao and Mt Hagen. Training programs will include a substantial focus on building capacity towards a  plastic surgery trainee program through providing access additional education and clinical skills activities, supporting the development of this specialty in PNG.

For more details, keep an eye on our Upcoming Programs, or get in touch with us!