21 Sep 2009

PNG call for NZ to help with maternal health crisis

3:20 pm on 21 September 2009

A group of Papua New Guinea health professionals is calling on the New Zealand government to help fund training for maternal health workers, to address what's being described as a crisis in the country.

The call has been made at a parliamentary hearing on Pacific maternal health in Wellington.

Jo O'Brien reports.

"In their submission to the hearing, four PNG health representatives are asking NZAID to fund four clinical midwifery tutors, a program to strengthen community health worker training schools, a lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology and assistance for specialists to train in New Zealand. They say a lack of trained staff is the main barrier to reducing the worst maternal mortality rate in the Pacific, which sees on average 1500 women a year die from pregnancy and childbirth complications."

Also at the hearing, a midwife from Fiji has spoken of a jump in maternal deaths last year, due to a lack of adequate assistance for women in provincial areas. And there's been criticism of Tonga's decision not to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.