POPULATION HEALTH AND RELIGION
Papua New Guinea has a population of 7 million. Infant mortality is high at 63 per 1000 children dying by the age of 5 yrs, and there is around one doctor per 20,000 population although most are in urban areas. Rural health services are poor and deteriorating.
Christianity is the predominant religion (97%), but is often combined in uneasy tension with traditional beliefs. Animistic traditions, which have a deep awareness of the spirit world in everything, still underlie practices aiming to control the forces and beings around them.
Most of the 85% living in rural areas are subsistence farmers, but the structure of society is changing rapidly with an influx of oil and gas exploration. This rapid economic development creates opportunities for the church to be involved in showing the relevance of Jesus to growing issues such as protecting women, addressing alcohol use and responding to the HIV epidemic.