Papua New Guinea (PNG) comprises the eastern half of the large island of New Guinea, which lies north of Australia. It is one of the world’s least explored territories and is rich in plant, animal and birdlife – such as the beautiful birds of paradise – that are found nowhere else. PNG has more languages (over 800) than any other country, and more than a thousand distinct cultural groups, each with its own forms of performance, design and costume.
For many years from the 1960s TLM virtually ran PNG’s leprosy control programme – a challenging task in PNG’s terrain. Leprosy control is now the responsibility of the Government and there is concern that the number of new cases appears to be on the rise. The TLM team’s focus has shifted to helping individuals and households affected by leprosy and disability gain improved incomes. TLM also works with other NGOs in PNG to make sure that people affected by leprosy and disability are intentionally included in their programmes.
In the autonomous region of Bougainville, TLM works with the Ministry of Health, community leaders and other agencies to implement the Bougainville Healthy Communities Programme. This large programme trains village leaders and village health volunteers, who educate the people on disease prevention, health practices and their rights to health care.
TLM’s country leader is Natalie Smith, who is originally from Australia. The annual budget is around £900,000, which includes substantial funding from the New Zealand Government for the work in Bougainville.