The year 2014 has been very good for Papua New Guinea. In Education PNG is nearly achieving Number 2 of the Eight (8) United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which is Universal Primary Education. It is still a challenging task for the Government and other NGOs to reach the target. About 500,000 school aged children are not going to school yet. But we are getting there. The Government also helped the churches with K25 million through the Department of Planning and Church State Partnership (CSP) program to fund projects in Education and Health.
In Health, PNG is gradually winning its fight against Malaria according to Dr. James Wangi. 1.6 million cases were recorded annually and about 600-700 died every year from Malaria. But this figure has decreased significantly thanks to the successful partners.
There are other developments in the country: better roads; more schools and health centres; more human resources and better equipped. LNG and other natural resources bring in wealth to our economy. Government is better focused with regard to development.
PNG was ranked second among 37 countries of the western Pacific region in Tuberculosis (TB) prevalence and death rates. About 14,000 people were affected annually and more than 4,000 people die every year. We have a long way to go.
With regard to Corruption, PNG ranks 145 out of 174 countries in 2014 (Corruption Perception Index collated by Transparency International) while it ranked 154 in 2011. It is good to know that many prominent leaders who were involved in corruption are behind bars and others are facing justice. There is a slight improvement but a lot to be desired.
Law and order is still a big problem for the country. Two disciplinary forces themselves had their problems and are not resolved yet. Violence against women and sorcery-related crimes are on the increase.
The results of the 2011 census were published this year. PNG has a population of 7.24 million and 96% are Christians.
I pray that God bless the leaders of our country, of the churches and of other religions in PNG.
I wish everyone A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2015.
Fr.Victor Roche, SVD – General Secretary, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua new Guinea & Solomon Islands.