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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea---A decline in health services and traditional taboos on eating certain foods have contributed to the country's high malnutrition rate, according to speakers at a government-sponsored health conference.

Attendees at the meeting, held in the northern city of Madang, were told that PNG has one of the highest child malnutrition rates in the entire Asia-Pacific region and funding for health education programs is urgently needed.

Malnutrition is particularly high among children in the highlands and the northern coastal areas. West Sepik province has the highest number of cases.

Lack of funding for educational programs remains a serious problem, speakers stressed.

Conference participants are developing strategies to assist in alleviating malnutrition in those areas with particularly high malnutrition rates.

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