The PNG LNG Project began baseline data collection in the 2006-2008-time period prior to the Project construction phase. ExxonMobil PNG Ltd. developed a private-public partnership in order to objectively document potential positive and negative health impacts on local communities during construction and operations. Data were collected for over 50,000 lives at impact and control/comparison locations covering key health and social indicators. This longitudinal monitoring and surveillance effort is a pioneering effort for the oil and gas industry. Key findings will be presented.
A public private partnership with the PNG Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) was established. Comprehensive household level demographic health surveys were conducted twice a year. Specialty medical surveys including, maternal and child health outcomes, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted disease incidence and prevalence were also conducted. Key social outcomes including changes in wealth status and in and out migration were analyzed. All surveys were conducted using processes and procedures established by the global INDEPTH Network of demographic health surveillance sites (DSS). The PNGLNG DSS is the first private company sponsored effort to be officially approved and recognized by INDEPTH.
A comprehensive monitoring system has been established and changes from pre-project baseline can be observed covering almost 10 years. The pre-project health impact assessment predictions were objectively assessed based on long-term longitudinal household/community data and found to be generally accurate. Construction related socio-economic and demographic changes during construction are documented; however, the ‘stickiness’ of these changes is less certain in some locations. Project in-migration impacts were generally modest and within pre-project predictions. Based on sequential morbidity and mortality surveys, the project potentially accelerated an ongoing epidemiological transition from infectious to non-communicable diseases in some locations. Concerns regarding increases in community level STIs were not documented. The rise of a silent epidemic in tuberculosis, unrelated to HIV infection, has been objectively documented and evidence provided to key public health authorities. Similarly, the objective decline in community level malaria rates is also observed. The difficulty in producing long-term positive maternal and child outcomes is observed. The demographic surveillance system has created the most robust set of longitudinal health data in PNG so that public health officials can make evidence-based decisions. Objective project-related impacts on community health were generally positive and/or neutral. Fears of large-scale negative health impacts were not realized based on longitudinal data and comparison to baseline conditions.
The PNG LNG health surveillance system is a landmark for the oil and gas industry and represents one the largest and most comprehensive longitudinal health monitoring effort ever developed for a private sector project. Sequential objective data with appropriate control/comparison locations are available including comparison to pre-project baseline data. Pre-project health impact assessment predications are largely confirmed. Significant negative project-related health impacts have not been documented. Changes in demography, socio-economics and morbidity/mortality patterns are observed.