The health risk information presented here is summarized from Shoreland Travax®, a decision-support tool used by health care providers to perform a detailed health risk analysis based on specific locations, individual travel styles, and traveler risk behaviors. Travax provides practitioners current, independently researched malaria risk and prevention recommendations in a map-based format that goes beyond the annual WHO and CDC statements included here. Not included here are current reports from Travax of disease outbreaks or environmental events that may pose elevated risks to travelers’ health and safety. The Providers section of this site offers a directory of health care providers who utilize Shoreland Travax for travel health counseling. Learn more about the detailed reports and maps available from these practitioners (includes links to samples).
Papua New Guinea is a developing nation in the lower half of the world's economies. Located in the Pacific Ocean, its climate is hot, but not extreme for a tropical country.
Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your visit, your health care provider may offer you vaccination against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, Japanese encephalitis, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies, or typhoid fever. Routine immunizations, such as those that prevent tetanus/diphtheria or "childhood" diseases, should be reviewed and updated as needed.
See also: Library article for Malaria
The following is current information as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
WHO—International Travel and Health (current online update, Country List)(2015) Malaria risk due predominantly to P. falciparum exists throughout the year in the whole country below 1800 m. P. vivax resistant to chloroquine reported.
- Recommended prevention in risk areas: C – Risk of P. falciparum malaria, in combination with reported chloroquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine resistance. Mosquito bite prevention plus atovaquone–proguanil or doxycycline or mefloquine chemoprophylaxis (select according to reported side effects and contraindications) a
aAlternatively, for travel to rural areas with low risk of malaria infection, mosquito bite prevention can be combined with stand–by emergency treatment (SBET).
WHO Country List footnote: When available, the date of the most recent update or confirmation is indicated in parentheses in the country list. If no date is indicated, the most recent update or confirmation was provided before 2013.
CDC—Health Information for International Travel (current online edition)Areas with malaria: Present throughout the country at altitudes < 2,000 m (6,561 ft)
- Estimated relative risk of malaria for US travelers: High.
- Drug resistance4: Chloroquine (both P. falciparum and P. vivax)
- Malaria species: P. falciparum 65%-80%, P. vivax 10%-30%, P. malariae and P. ovale rare.
- Recommended chemoprophylaxis: Atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine
4 Refers to P. falciparum malaria unless otherwise noted.
See also: Library article for Travelers' Diarrhea
High risk exists throughout the country, including in deluxe accommodations. Food and beverage precautions may reduce the likelihood of illness.
Travelers should carry loperamide for self-treatment of diarrhea and, if risk is moderate to high, an antibiotic to add if diarrhea is severe. Consult a knowledgeable health care provider regarding which antibiotic is appropriate for you and most effective for your destination.
Other Food-Borne Illnesses
Precautions to prevent seafood poisoning may be needed.
Insect- and Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Other Disease and Health Risks
The material below includes information from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as well as from additional open-source material. Standard safety precautions that apply to all international travel can be found in the Library article Safety and Security.
Consular Travel Advice
Due to civil unrest and postearthquake security concerns, U.S. (DOS) advises reconsidering travel (or avoiding nonessential travel) to Highlands Region and areas near the Panguna mine in Bougainville Autonomous Region. Australia (DFAT) has a more limited warning. U.K. (FCO) and Canada (GAC) have no current warnings.
No intrinsic risk of attack by terrorist groups exists, but unforeseen attacks are possible.
High risk of violent crime (armed robbery, sexual assault, and carjacking) exists throughout the country, especially in Port Moresby (Parliament House area), Madang (Madang Province), and Lae (Morobe Province), including along the highway between Lae and Lae Nadzab Airport and the Highland Highway (particularly between the towns of Goroka and Kainantu).
High risk of petty crime exists in cities, especially in Port Moresby, Lae (Morobe Province), and Mount Hagen (Western Highlands Province).
Protests and demonstrations occur throughout the country and have the potential to turn violent without warning. Bystanders are at risk of harm from violence or from the response by authorities. Disruption to transportation, free movement, or the ability to carry out daily activities may occur.
Passenger boats may be unsafe, including ferries and small crafts traveling between islands. Decline water transportation in vessels that appear overloaded or lack personal flotation devices or life jackets.
Rent water sports equipment from reputable operators. Scuba dive only with personnel certified by PADI or NAUI, and use equipment only from PADI- or NAUI-certified dive operators.
Other Safety Threats
Travelers to the central mountainous area around the old Panguna mine on Bougainville Island should be extremely cautious. The old Panguna mine is a "no go zone." Travelers may be detained by local officials if attempting to enter this zone. Passports may be confiscated by the Papua New Guinea government. There are no tourist facilities in the area, and transportation facilities are limited.
It is dangerous to hike or do other travel in isolated rural areas. Travelers intending to walk the Kokoda Track should travel with a guide from a reputable tour company and pay the required fee prior to walking the trail. Facilities along the track are limited.
Attacks on trekking parties on the Black Cat Track in Morobe Province have resulted in the death of several local guides and injuries to foreign trekkers.
Unexploded ordnance from World War II still exists in Papua New Guinea, particularly along the Kokoda Track and at Milne Bay and Rabual.
Arrange to be met at the airport, particularly when arriving in the evening.
High risk of traffic-related injury or death exists. The road-traffic death rate is 12 to 24 per 100,000 population. The rate is < 10 in most high-income countries. Speed laws are poorly enforced. Driving at night is not advised. Seek local advice before traveling on roads outside urban areas after dark.
Traffic flows on the left-hand side of the road. Travelers (including drivers and pedestrians) accustomed to traffic moving on the opposite side should be vigilant when navigating traffic.
The rainy season is from December through March, coinciding with the typhoon season. Floods, mudslides, and landslides may occur.
Seismic and volcanic activity frequently occurs, especially in East New Britain Province, West New Britain Province, and on Manam Island in Madang Province.
Selected Embassies or Consulates in Papua New Guinea
- United States: [+675] 7200-9439; pg.usembassy.gov
- Canada: Canada does not have an embassy or consulate in Papua New Guinea.
- United Kingdom: [+675] 303-7600; www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-high-commission-port-moresby
- Australia: [+675] 325-9333; www.png.embassy.gov.au
Papua New Guinea's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: www.pngembassy.org
- In Canada: Papua New Guinea does not have an embassy or consulate in Canada.
- In the U.K.: www.pnghighcomm.org.uk
- In Australia: www.pngcanberra.org
HIV testing is required to obtain a work or residence visa.