Papua New Guinea

How the Medical system works in Papua New Guinea

Health facilities are available in Port Moresby and other major urban areas, but health care may be below US standards or vary greatly between locations. Public medical clinics often lack basic resources and supplies. Severe injuries often require medical evacuation to Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, or the United States.

Psychological and psychiatric services are extremely limited, even in Port Moresby and other urban areas.

Being admitted to hospital in Papua New Guinea

Hospital-based care is only available through one government institution in Port Moresby.

Hospitals and doctors may require payment “up front” prior to service or admission, and credit card payment is not always available. Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.

Generally, in public hospitals, only minimal staff is available overnight. Consider hiring a private nurse or having family spend the night with the patient, especially a minor child.

Private hospitals usually require advance payment or proof of adequate insurance before admitting a patient.

For emergency services in Papua New Guinea, dial 111 to reach St. John Ambulance Service.

Ambulance services are:

  • Not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas except for Port Moresby and other major urban areas.
  • Not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
  • Not always staffed with trained paramedics and/ or may have little or no medical equipment.

Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.


Buying medication in Papua New Guinea

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Embassy of Papua New Guinea to ensure the medication is legal in Papua New Guinea.

Persons arriving in Papua New Guinea are advised to travel with copies of any prescriptions for medication.

Common prescription and over-the-counter medications are generally available at pharmacies located in major urban areas.

Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.

Vaccinations in Papua New Guinea

The following diseases are prevalent:

Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.

Water quality in the Papua New Guinea

In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.

Natural disasters in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is among the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Earthquakes, tropical cyclones, destructive tsunamis, exceptionally high tides, seasonal and flash flooding, and landslides can occur with little or no notice. The country has many active volcanoes. Recent eruptions have occurred in in Bougainville, East and West New Britain, and Manam Island. Ash from volcanoes in East and West New Britain occasionally disrupts air and ground operations at the airports in Kokopo and Hoskins.

Source: US Department of State