Papua New Guinea

Health challenges

The largest nation in the Pacific, PNG is classified as a low middle-income country. Close to 90 percent of the population live in rural areas and access to these widely scattered communities is often difficult, slow and expensive. Violence against women and achieving gender equality remain major challenges. The country is a signatory to the World Health Organization’s Millennium Development Declaration.

The major health problems currently affecting PNG according to the World Health Organization are:

  • Communicable diseases, with malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases, and acute respiratory disease the major causes of morbidity and mortality.

  • A generalised HIV epidemic driven mainly by heterosexual transmission.

  • Rates of infant and child mortality are high compared to other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

  • Maternal mortality remains very high.

Burnet’s work

For more than a decade, Burnet has addressed some of PNG’s critical health problems by implementing community-based programs using international development and public health principles. We have also undertaken social and clinical research, supporting the development of an improved evidence base to inform policy development.

Partnering with both government and non-government health agencies and regional research networks, we have focused on major health issues such as HIV, alcohol and other drugs use, sexual health, malaria, measles, birth dose vaccines, and maternal and child health. With our extensive experience in the field, Burnet has forged a strong understanding of the diversity and complexity of health programming in PNG.

In September 2012, Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Papua New Guinea’s Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Professor Sir Isi Kevau.

The MOU outlined locating the Institute’s Port Moresby office on the University’s campus, supporting the Public Health Program of the School and developing joint research activities.

“This MOU reflects our commitment to work closely with key local partners in PNG to help address some of the country’s most critical health issues,” Professor Crabb said.

Burnet’s head office in PNG is based in Kokopo, East New Britain.

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Past projects

Burnet completed its management of the AusAID-funded Tingim Laip HIV prevention project in 2010.

Our staff has also delivered:

  • national in-service training on women’s and children’s health
  • maternal and child health projects in remote areas along the Sepik River
  • improving responses to vaccine preventable diseases
  • a rapid assessment and response investigating the links between drugs, alcohol and HIV in PNG.



Section 90, Lot 1 Takubar, East New Britain Mailing: PO Box 1458, Kopoko Post Office
Kokopo, East New Britain
Papua New Guinea

Contact Details

For more information about our work in Papua New Guinea, please contact:

Mark Tennent

Chief Operating Officer; Director, Papua New Guinea




Current Projects

  • Accelerating access to postnatal care and chlorhexidine in PNG

  • ANCP – Kickstarting antimicrobial resistance responses in PNG (KICK AMR)

  • Antenatal and postnatal care remote contacts guidance

  • Australia Awards Fellowship: KICK-AMR to Address Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Building a Centre of Excellence for Research and Training for DR-TB in Daru, Papua New Guinea

  • Burnet Microbiome Initiative

  • Clinical studies on malaria

  • COMBAT AMR: Mitigating the threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in Pacific Island Countries

  • COVID-19 Healthcare E-Learning Platform (CoHELP)

  • Demonstrating the impact of next generation Cepheid tools in TB

  • Diagnostic accuracy of Molbio Truenat for diagnosis of TB and rifampicin resistance

  • Discovering the mechanisms and targets of immunity against malaria

  • Engaging men to improve family health and prevent gender-based violence

  • ESCAPE-TB: Enhanced screening and preventive therapy for TB in Daru, PNG

  • Evaluating a highly sensitive rapid malaria diagnostic in PNG

  • Evelyn Lavu Travel Scholarship

  • Fleming Fund Country Grant – Papua New Guinea

  • Gender Counts

  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

  • HMHB - Health Services for Postnatal and Infancy Care

  • HMHB: Quality of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Newborn Health Services Study

  • HMHB: The impact of nutrition, malaria and STIs on pregnant women and infants

  • Immunity to malaria and infectious diseases during pregnancy

  • Implementing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services in East Asia and the Pacific Region

  • Improved point-of-care test to eliminate congenital syphilis

  • Iron deficiency anaemia and adverse birth outcomes in a malaria-endemic region of Papua New Guinea

  • Major advances in understanding malaria immunity and biology

  • NATNAT: Newly Adapted Tools and Network Against Mosquito Borne Disease Transmission

  • New Target Product Profiles for pre-eclampsia prevention and treatment

  • Optima HIV Modelling

  • Optima Nutrition Modelling

  • Optima Tuberculosis (TB) Modelling

  • PAVE PNG - PArtnership for Vivax Elimination

  • PRIME-TB: Papua New Guinea & Republic of Indonesia for the Micro Elimination of TB

  • Rapid and accurate diagnosis of TB: New trial in PNG

  • Rapid review of maternal health recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • RID-TB Patient Education and Counselling

  • RID-TB: Reducing the Impact of Drug-Resistant TB in Western Province, PNG

  • Sexual and reproductive health in Asia and the Pacific

  • SRHIP: Sexual & Reproductive Health Integration Project

  • Strengthen Emergency Obstetric Newborn Care (EmONC) training through a Master Train-the-Trainer Program

  • STRIVE PNG: Stronger Surveillance and Systems Support for Rapid Identification and Containment of Resurgent or Resistant Vector-Borne Pathogens in Papua New Guinea

  • Tackling TB and HIV Together in Papua New Guinea

  • The EZARET Study: Exploring Zoonotic Association and Risks for Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis in PNG

  • The Social and Cultural Determinants of TB in Daru [SCuD-TB Daru – Study 1]

  • Truenat point-of-care testing in household contact screening in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea (TruePICS)

  • West Sepik Covid-19 Vaccination Advocacy Project

Past Projects

  • Accelerating ART initiation among Infants (AAMI Study)

  • HHISP: Strengthening Papua New Guinea health systems

  • Scenario analysis for programmatic tuberculosis control in Western Province, Papua New Guinea