New Zealand has committed $10 million towards curbing the spread of polio in Papua New Guinea, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says.

He also announced New Zealand would contribute $13.5 million over four years to support 200,000 Pacific households by bolstering agricultural trade access.

Peters, who is in Papua New Guinea (PNG), said the current polio outbreak in PNG was a tragedy for those children and families who had been affected.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed the outbreak earlier this year.


PNG had been polio-free for 18 years.

"As polio is a highly infectious disease which transmits rapidly, there is a potential for the outbreak to spread to other children across the country, or even into neighbouring countries unless swift action is taken," the organisation said.

Peters said investing in vaccinations was one of the most effective investments in economic growth and human development that a country could make.

"Back in New Zealand it highlighted for us the very real risks that exist for children who are not able to receive the appropriate vaccinations that protect them from serious and life-threatening illnesses."

New Zealand is committing to work together with PNG, and other donors, particularly Australia, to strengthen local health systems in PNG to lift immunisation rates, he said.

Peters announced the Government had also earmarked funding to support agricultural market access in the Pacific.

The Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (Phama) Plus programme is a new joint initiative between New Zealand and Australia.

It would target select export products in Pacific countries and help producers, processors and exporters improve their productivity, quality of production, and capacity to meet export market biosecurity requirements.


Agricultural, forestry, fishery and handicraft products would be initially targeted for support under the scheme, Peters said, adding that the initiative would benefit 200,000 Pacific households.

Peters said Pacific producers struggle to gain and maintain access to international markets due to a range of challenges.

These include meeting the quality and biosecurity standards of export markets, maintaining a reliable scale of production and dealing with the increased frequency and severity of adverse weather events.

"Export opportunities make an important contribution to the economic growth of Pacific Island countries and the livelihoods of their people."