22 Sep 2009

NZAID to look into PNG health aid request

1:00 pm on 22 September 2009

The New Zealand government aid agency, NZAID, says it will look at a request for funding to boost training for reproductive health workers in Papua New Guinea, but says it's already helping to strengthen the country's health system.

At a parliamentary hearing on Pacific maternal health in Wellington yesterday, a delegation of PNG health workers asked NZAID to fund midwifery tutors and an obstetrics lecturer, a community health worker program, and assistance to enable specialists to train in New Zealand.

They say 4 women a day die from pregnancy and childbirth complications in PNG, and a lack of trained staff is the main barrier to reducing the maternal mortality rate.

The acting executive director of NZAID, Jackie Frizelle, says the agency will consider the request.

But she says there is already a collective effort to strengthen health delivery in PNG, which has a focus on women and children.

"We're deeply concerned about the situation of maternal health in Papua New Guinea. We're already involved substantially in helping to strengthen the whole of the health sector, working at many different levels, working with government, working with the non-government sector, including a major program with Save the Children Fund, and with the UN agencies, WHO."

Jackie Frizelle says New Zealand's planned expenditure on sexual and reproductive health in the Pacific last year was 5.2 million US dollars.