The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, has highlighted the importance of enhancing rural and remote healthcare services, as part of ongoing devolution and autonomy for provinces around the Nation.

“Our Government will continue to be focused on further empowering districts and provinces to deliver services and build infrastructure for their people,” PM O’Neill said.

“Wigani is the administrative hub of Government, but most of our people live in rural areas, and it is the people in these communities who need to determine how money is spent in their districts and provinces.

“Over the past five years our Government has been enabling greater autonomy in our regions so that local leaders can make decisions that improve services and infrastructure in local communities.

“For the first time in our history, Government is transferring real funding to our Districts and Provinces, and this is a big change from decades past.

“When I was first elected to Parliament in 2002, my District received no funding from the National Government, and as the local Member I was frustrated.  Services were in decline and infrastructure was in ruin, and there was nothing a local Member could do about this terrible state of affairs.

“In 2012 our Government introduced DSIPs and PSIPs, and for the last five years elected members have been able to work with local authorities to ensure this funding is properly targeted.”

PM O’Neill said providing real healthcare to remote and rural areas will remain a core Government policy.

“Access to hospital care should not be restricted to urban areas, and in the next term of Government we will continue to build and rehabilitate provincial hospitals.

“The strengthening of rural healthcare has been ongoing over the past five years, and we will now raise that to a new level.

“In strengthening rural hospitals we will further address maternal and infant mortality around the country.  It is not good enough that mothers die in childbirth, and children do not live beyond their young years.

“Our rural healthcare centres will also have greater focus on preventing and managing diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs and cancer.

“Working with churches, NGOS and partner Governments, the next stage in our rural health strengthening will deal with these problems and ensure that more of our people can live until old age.”