5 Feb 2013

More Pacific midwives 'key' to reducing baby deaths

9:28 am on 5 February 2013

Health workers are calling for more Pacific midwives in South Auckland to stem the high number of deaths of Pacific unborn and newborn babies.

The Counties Manukau District Health Board is meeting on Tuesday to act on an independent review into its perinatal mortality rate, which is the highest in New Zealand - especially among Pacific and Maori women.

South Auckland's biggest Pacific health provider, South Seas Healthcare, says the most urgent need is for more Pacific midwives.

Director Andrew Chan Mow says the number is "woefully inadequate" and a barrier to Pacific mothers getting proper ante-natal care.

He says the few Pacific midwives are so overburdened, they often can't take referrals from his GPs to be the lead maternity carer.

The Counties Manukau DHB says it will boost scholarships and existing programmes to recruit more Pacific midwives.

Director of strategic development Margie Apa says it is also looking at more help for midwives trained in the islands to requalify in New Zealand and incentives for community midwives to take on high-needs pregnant women.