18 Sep 2009

Call to improve maternal health in Pacific

12:24 pm on 18 September 2009

There's a call for greater funding for maternal health as five women a day die in the Pacific as a result of complications during pregnancy or childbirth, and the region falls short of its millennium development goal.

The New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development is holding an open hearing on maternal health in the Pacific at Parliament in Wellington on Monday.

The parliamentarians will hear from Pacific reproductive health workers, and organisations such as the United Nations, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, NZAID and World Vision.

Joanna Spratt, the director of Family Planning International, says in comparison to other millennium development goals, the Pacific is making little progress on maternal health.

She says she hopes the hearing will produce recommendations that will push politicians to act.

"It really is political will, and then filtering that will through to increased funding in the right areas, like family planning and making sure that women can get antenatal care, making sure that they can have assistance during childbirth, trained assistance and when things really go wrong, that they can have emergency care."

Joanna Spratt says research shows reproductive health is worse in countries where there are lower numbers of women in parliament.