The oil and gas industry continues to spread its philanthropic wings. This time, the good deeds are landing in Papua New Guinea (PNG). On behalf of the PNG LNG Project, ExxonMobil Corp. announced this month a US $3.1 million, two-year initiative targeting the Southeast Asian country. Plans are for the funds to be used to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality rates as part of a program led by Houston-based Texas Children’s Hospital and its partner, Baylor College of Medicine. More specifically, the grant will enable the expansion of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital (BIPAI) into PNG. Thanks to this funding specialist doctors will be deployed to the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine and Health Sciences with goals of strengthening and training current and future health care professionals, according to a press release announcing the grant. “Ultimately, our hope is that this program will measurably improve the methods and delivery of maternal and children’s health services in Papua New Guinea,” Michael Mizwa, COO and senior vice president of BIPAI said in the prepared statement. The initiative “will continue to build the capacity of the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ medical education and training in pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology and public health.” In PNG, the infant mortality rate – defined as the probability of dying between birth and exactly one year of age expressed per 1,000 live births – was 45 in 2011, according to UNICEF. The number has dropped significantly since 1990 when the rate was 64 out of 1,000; however, the rate remains high. With assistance from medical professionals and funding in place, hopes are the rate can be reduced even more. “This program will enable mothers and children of Papua New Guinea to benefit from the world-class expertise of Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine,” Neil Duffin, president of ExxonMobil Development Co., said in the release. “It is our belief that the work done through the program will help ensure improved health for the future generations of the country.” The efforts by all should be applauded. BIPAI started in 1996 in Romania after Dr. Mark Kline, currently physician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital and chairman of the pediatrics department at Baylor College of Medicine, learned of children dying of HIV/AIDS at the same time that medical breakthroughs were being made in the West, according to the BIPAI website. Since the doctor’s tour of Romanian clinics, hospitals, and orphanages, the initiative has spread to countries including Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mexico, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Uganda. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at vaddison@hartenergy.com.