2 Aug 2010

More political will needed to reduce PNG's "staggering" maternal mortality rate

6:25 am on 2 August 2010

A United Nations representative says Papua New Guinea's maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the world and greater political committment from leaders is needed to stop women dying in child birth.

Dame Carol Kidu, the country's only woman MP, has called the death rate of 733 per 100 thousand, 'staggering' and claimed the issue should be treated as a national emergency.

The United Nations Population Fund Representative in PNG, Dr Gilbert Hiawalyer is supporting Dame Carol's assessment

"The maternal deaths, mothers dying from giving birth or giving a life, is not on. The high mortality rate in PNG it is the highest in the Pacific region and the second highest in the Asia region because Afghanistan is the highest, so its one of the highest in the world and I think its important the leaders and all sectors of the community take the issue on hand."

Dr Hiawayler says a Ministerial Task Force has been set up to coordinate with donor agencies aiming to improve access to contraception and boost training for midwives.

But he says with poor road access in rural areas and run down health clinics, he is not satisfied enough is being done to reduce the number of women dying, and he says it will be very difficult for PNG to reach the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the maternal death rate by 2015.