A crucial guide for District Health Managers in PNG

A new guidebook to help PNG health managers effectively deliver health services within their districts is now available online and in hard copy. The guidebook, which was developed and published by the National Department of Health (NDoH) with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), is intended to assist district health managers to effectively cope with their leadership and coordination roles in the provision of health services within their administrative districts.

WHO Officer In Charge, Dr Paulinus Sikosana, said this is particularly important because of the shortage of experienced district health managers who can mentor an emerging crop of prospective district health managers.

In light of the government of PNG establishing District Development Authorities (DDAs) in 2015, Dr Sikosana says the role of district health leadership has become “even more critical in the development of a resilient district health delivery system and guaranteeing complementarity between DDAs and Provincial Health Authorities”.

Furthermore, he says the National Health Services Standards (2012) do not adequately address the role of the district health system in the emerging context of PNG’s health sector reforms. “The District Health Managers’ Guide Book will thus play a significant role in filling this void” said Dr Sikosana who is also WHO’s Technical Lead for Health System Strengthening.

WHO collaborated with NDoH and the Madang Provincial Health Directorate to support a self-assessment of the functionality of district health services by the respective district health teams. The headline observation from the assessment was that:

  • The district health system in Madang was grossly dysfunctional
  • District health leadership was either weak or absent
  • Management structures and practices were considered ineffective
  • Support and supervision activities were virtually non-existent at provincial and district levels
  • The capacity to utilise health information in decision making was lacking

Though there was useful collaboration between district health workers and non-state providers of health services, opportunities for such collaboration were however not fully exploited.

The Independent Annual Sector Review Group Report of 2012 had similar findings that strong leadership and governance, good supervision, monitoring and support were good indicators of best performing districts. The findings of the assessment provided an opportunity to create a soft landing platform for aspiring district health managers throughout the country.

The District Health Managers’ Guide Book can be obtained from the National Department of Health or through this link: