The National, Tuesday 4th September, 2012
HEALTH secretary Pascoe Kase wants resource sector partners to be partners in delivering better health to Papua New Guineans.
Kase said he could not see how companies could establish themselves in Papua New Guinea communities for nearly “10, 15 or 20 years” and not work with the country to leave those communities better off and healthier.
During his address at this year’s medical symposium in Port Moresby yesterday, he said the event was ideal and timely, taking into account recent developments in the mining industry.
Kase acknowledged companies such as Oil Search Ltd, Ok Tedi, Porgera Joint Venture and Lihir mining for their substantial community health programmes.
“We want to see this more in full partnership with government and other stakeholders.
“We want to work with the resource sector over the years that you are here to improve the lives of our people,” he said.
Kase said the resource sector was already operating in remote locations where health infrastructure was fragile.
He said their participation in partnership offered an immediate opportunity for health system strengthening, which would otherwise take years.
“The government and resource sector have a shared agenda in terms of social development,” he said.
Kase said the partnerships potentially created a win-win situation for both parties and this was firm ground for development partnership.
He said PNG Mining Act required companies to undertake environmental and social impact assessments but did not require a health impact assessment.
Kase said international best practice guidelines to implement health impact assessments had been established and were documented by the International Council on Mining and Metals and the International Finance Corporation and both could be adopted in developing a framework for Papua New Guinea.
He said international experience showed that in addition to potential environment and social impacts, “mining will impact on the health of local communities in a number of ways”.
He outlined some of the issues such as infectious diseases, chronic diseases, nutritional disorders, physical injuries, mental health and well-being, health equity and inequality.