Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lies, damned lies, and Papua New Guinea statistics.

From A Correspondent based upon a recent report from the Australian National University

Papua New Guinea scarecely reports a single statistical indicator accurately.

This leads to nonsense in PNG's entries in the Human Development Report (HDR) and a blank against many of the research topics Australian National University scholars pursue.

PNG's figures for life expectancy in the UN's Human Development Register are false; made up by PNG's statisticians.

The only calculations of life expectancy in PNG from nationally-collected data are those of the demographer Martin Bakker: 49.6 years and 54.2 years in the 1980 and 2000 censuses respectively.

With the HIV-AIDS epidemic taking hold in PNG in the last decade, life expectancy might be going down again: we really have no idea.

The 'decline' of the maternal mortality ratio (deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes/100,000 live births) is another example of "Dr Giaman" at work.

The HDRs claim a remarkable fall in PNG, from 900 to 250 over the 20 years.

But with no death registration in PNG, where have the figures come from?

They are also made up.

Glen Mola of the Port Moresby General Hospital, PNG's expert in these matters, currently accepts a figure of between 700 and 900, for an appalling lifetime risk for women of dying from pregnancy of 1 in 20.

PNG has gone nowhere.

If PNG had the health profile of Fiji – by no means an HDR saint – something like 8000 excess deaths among under fives and 1000 excess deaths of mothers would be saved each year in PNG, and with Fiji's homicide rate, perhaps another 1000 murder victims, each year.

These are big numbers – 350,000 avoidable fatalities since Independence, more than the population of Vanuatu, or Oro and New Ireland provinces combined.

With the apparent abandonment of a national census as the basis for electoral administration, government planning and budgeting, and general statistical monitoring of the progress of the nation we remain in total ignorance of the material and human developmental status of our nation.

Who cares, or who should care, if a national government will not?

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