14 Sep 2011

Study needed to assess impact of PNG birthing programme

6:36 pm on 14 September 2011

An obstetrician in Papua New Guinea says a study is needed to assess the impact of the government's Village Birth Attendant programmes on birth mortality rates.

VBA participants learn about proper health and hygiene during pregnancy and how best to help with a safe delivery using a Zonta birthing kit, as well as knowledge on how to administer first aid.

Often trainees live in remote rural communities with poor transport access, walking for days just to get to training venues.

Dr Ligo Augerea says it would be good to know whether it's making a difference.

"It's very difficult to gauge whether they contribute or have an impact on this maternal or pre-natal mortality, as the figures are not there."

Dr Ligo Augerea says given traditional cultural taboos, he is surprised that more men now seem interested in the training.

Zonta International, which distributes birthing kits to VBA trainees, says the lifetime risk of death in childbirth is one in seven in rural PNG, with a maternal mortality rate of 300 per 100,000 live births.