9 Mar 2009

Maternal and infant mortality rates in Papua dreadful

8:29 pm on 9 March 2009

The Australia West Papua Association says dramatic statistics about infant and maternal mortality emerging from the Provincial Health Department in Indonesia's Papua are almost certainly wrong but highlight what is an alarming health issue.

Recent information released from the Department says that almost 40 percent of Papuan women die when giving birth with only 52 babies per 1,000 surviving birth.

But an article about health standards in Papua region published late last year by Australia's Medical Journal puts the maternal mortality rate at around 1 percent, and the infant mortality rate at up to 15 percent, with a further 3-5 percent of children dying before the age of five.

However the Association's Dr Anne Noonan says these rates are among the worst in the world.

"Those figures from the Australian Medical Journal are erring on the conservative which is... probably better to err on the conservative which is provable than exagerrate which then always leaves your whole question open to exagerration. But they're still dreadful figures."

Dr Anne Noonan says the implementation of basic health services and acceptable sanitary condition could help address outbreaks of diarrhoea and cholera in Papua region.

She says there's a direct link from treatable diseases and malnourishment to the alarming infant and mortality rates in the remote region.

That's probably one of the reasons that kids are so run down. their mother's are anemic. Then you've got parasite infestatinos, mosquitoes, worms, all that sort of stuff. Then you've got the lack of vaccinatino and it all has a terrible pull-dopwn effect on the mortality of the children.