PNG looks to cut maternal death rates
Continued efforts are being made to decrease Papua New Guinea's maternal mortality rates.
Continued efforts are being made by health workers to cut Papua New Guinea's maternal mortality rates.
The country claims one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, falling just behind Afghanistan and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Indira Moala reports.
Recent statistics from an Australian NGO suggest that for every 100,000 live births, 230 women will die from pregnancy related complicactions. The president of Australian Doctors International, Peter Macdonald, says there are two main issues that contribute to the high death rate; significant blood loss in unsupervised births and a lack of access to family planning. Dr Macdonald says the statistics are appalling and the solution isn't rocket science.
PETER MACDONALD: Less than half of women actually have a skilled attendant with them when they give birth to the baby, which basically means they bleed and the commonest cause of death is from postpartum haemorrhage. So if they actually have a supervised delivery, that can be dealt with. And the other thing that ADI have learnt is that access to family planning service is apalling - the lack of it. If we can reduce the number of pregnancies, obviously the chance of a woman dying correspondingly decreases.
Dr. Peter Macdonald says his organisation gives out baby packs to women who travel from rural areas to mainland health centres as an incentive to increase supervised births. The packs include items for the care of newborn babies. Gemma Tuxworth is a Primary Health Manager working with ADI, she says it's important to get men more involved in the process of family planning.
GEMMA TUXWORTH: It's all well and good for a woman to say, oh my gosh I've had ten babies, I don't want any more. But, for the cultural sensitivity, a lot of our healthworkers really want the man to be involved in that decision. And even though by law he's not required to be involved in that decision, we need to think of ways to bring the men along on the journey so that the women's outcomes are improved.
Ms Tuxworth says there are many cultural myths about contraception that health workers are trying to dispel. The President of the PNG Society of Rural and Remote Health, David Mills, says there can be a lot of tension when a woman accesses family planning services without her husband's involvement. Dr. Mills agrees that involving the men is crucial, but says that his experience on the ground means he's had to change the way he views the situation.
DAVID MILLS: We talk about the need for contraception as it would appear from the woman's point of view and of course we absolutely have to consider that - the risks of her dying as she has increasing number of children are extremely high. But sometimes, I must say - and it's very sad to say this and it's unfortunate to say it, but it's not always necessarily what's going to motivate the husbands to get on board and to do what we would consider to be the right thing. You're going to have to tailor the discussion in a way that makes sense to men, that motivates the men and that gets them on board if you like and we haven't always been successful with that in the past.
David Mills says health workers are trying to find a balance between protecting women's rights and preventing conflict within families.
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