A call's been made to boost the health of girls and women in Papua New Guinea, to help bring down the country's maternal mortality rate which is the highest in the Asia Pacific region.
The Coordinator of Obstretrics and Gynaecology at Port Moresby General Hospital, Dr Apeawusu Amoa says anaemia or lack of blood remains a major cause of death in pregnant women in PNG, and the country needs to start treating females well when they are young.
He says there needs to be a change in culture attitudes and instead of giving all the good food to boys, girls should be eating well so they are healthy when they are pregnant.
A report by the hospital states that PNG has a maternal mortality rate of 733 per 100,000 live births.
Other causes of the high rate include haemorrhage, obstructed labour, tuberculosis, HIV, pneumonia and high blood pressure.
Dr Amoa says women living far from health facilities are not treated for these problems, and many die because they are not taken to hospitals until they are having difficulty giving birth.
He says Port Moresby Hospital attends women from remote areas in both Gulf and Central provinces and has an extremely high maternal mortality rate of 15 per 11,000 per births.
Provincial hospital figures are also high.
Dr Amoa is urging government departments and communities to address the issue.