The director of think-tank Papua New Guinea Affairs Institute says that the millennium development goals (MDGs) may not be met this year because funding has focused on executing the Pacific Games that will take place through July.
"A focus on status projects, often overpriced, deflects resources from core priorities," Paul Barker told NITV.
"Unfortunately, the lack of investment, particularly on maintaining and developing core infrastructure, notably transport access but also other utilities, and supporting quality or in many cases any services, especially to rural areas, has undermined Papua New Guinea’s development, especially over the past 20 years."
PNG has committed to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds from that in 1990, which stood at 91.3. However, the World Bank measures it to sit at 47 deaths per 1,000 births. Malaria cases, which were expected to be halted by 2015, currently total 1,688 per 100,000 people. Forty percent of the PNG population have access to safe water, only a slight decrease from 41 percent in 1990, says the United Nations.
Papua New Guinea's economic growth over the past 13 years has provided opportunities to address issues, said Mr Barker. The country's economic growth rose to 8 percent in 2014 and is forecast at 15.0 percent propelled by gas exports for 2015.
And while the construction of Pacific Games facilities and associated infrastructure provides some needed development and economic stimulation during a downturn, Mr Barker says it is ultimately not sustainable.
"Big sports events or other once-off events, don't provide much long-term economic benefit, but can cost an awful lot, although they don’t need to cost so much."
The Pacific Games Council, however, told NITV that the country’s development objectives and goals could be quickly achieved through investment sporting facilities and in sport more broadly.
"Providing infrastructure and facilities to a very young and growing population, where unemployment can be quite high."
Pacific Games Council executive director Andrew Minogue said the games strengthened the job sector by, "Providing infrastructure and facilities to a very young and growing population, where unemployment can be quite high."
Mr Minogue added that Papua New Guinea's athletes were being provided with the support they needed to thrive. "There are present day examples of athletes coming through from disadvantaged backgrounds, like Steven Kari and Dika Toua, who won gold medals in Glasgow and are now professional athletes with commercial sponsorship.
"More athletes are sure to follow in their wake. This cannot happen if there are no facilities."
PNG ranks 156 out of 187 countries in the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI). The country will now progress into the new phase of the international development agenda: the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is co-facilitator with Denmark of the Global Summit on SDGs to take place later this year.
The SDGs have an emphasis on environmental sustainability.
PNG Millennium Development Goals
PNG is under obligation to reach the following 2015 Millennium Development Goals:
Goal 1 – eradicate poverty and hunger
1. Halve between 1990 and 2015 the proportion of people whose income in less than one dollar per day
2. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from Hunger
Goal 2 – achieve universal primary education
3. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
Goal 3 – promote gender equality and empower women
4. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to all levels of education no later than 2015
Goal 4 - reduce child mortality
5. Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate
Goal 5 – Improve maternal health
6. Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate
Goal 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
8. Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
Goal 7 – Ensure environmental sustainability
9. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources
10. Halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
Goal 8 – Develop a global partnership for development
11. Address the special needs of landlocked countries and small island developing States
12. Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term
13. In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth
14. In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications