21 Sep 2009

Concerns maternal health in Fiji maybe suffering under regime

10:31 am on 21 September 2009

An open hearing on maternal health in the Pacific will not include a submission on the situation in Fiji, but a family planning expert says there are indications women are suffering under the military-led regime.

The New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development is holding the hearing at Parliament in Wellington today.

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

It will also hear from reproductive health workers in Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Samoa.

Joanna Spratt, the development director of Family Planning International, says a midwife from Fiji will be speaking in her capacity as the vice-president of the Pacific Reproductive Health Society, although not on the situation in Fiji.

But Ms Spratt says feedback suggests the political situation in the country may be affecting women's health.

"From anecdotes and conversations with people, they say that generally under military dictatorships and they do feel it has happened in Fiji, the situation of women tends to suffer."

Joanna Spratt says she hopes the hearing will lead to increased funding for maternal health.