I REFER to your report “Zibe cries foul over AusAID funds” (March 31).
In agreement with the PNG Government, Australia is focusing its health efforts on the Millennium Development Goals, including child health, maternal health, HIV, malaria and other diseases.
Australia continues to support health patrols, drug distribution, operational costs for aid posts and health centres, HIV prevention and treatment, anti-malaria programmes and child immunisation.
For example, Australia has helped PNG to immunise up to one million Papua New Guinean children against common childhood illnesses.
We have also funded construction of 20 sexually transmitted disease clinics across PNG over the past decade.
This support is ongoing with 18 more clinics planned for the future.
In addition, Australia funds the World Health Organisation in PNG, which plays a key role in disease control, including cholera and tuberculosis.
Recently, Australia supplied PNG with 700,000 H1N1 vaccines, to immunise health workers and vulnerable groups, including pregnant mothers, against the virus.
Decisions about what the Australian aid programme supports in PNG are made jointly with the PNG Government.
In the health sector, there is a very specific agreement in place agreed in June 2009 between ministers at the Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum.
An important part of this agreement is Australia’s commitment to support PNG’s vision, as outlined in PNG’s own National Health Plan, to ensure Papua New Guineans have access to basic health services.
Finally, it needs to be emphasised that there is not one Australian-funded adviser position in Papua New Guinea that has not been requested, or at least agreed, by the PNG Government.
Indeed, because the aid budget is finite, the number of such advisers is actually much lower than the number requested by the PNG authorities.
Public affairs manager