7 Nov 2011

Research NGO calls for stronger link between volunteers and health

5:05 pm on 7 November 2011

An Australian medical research organisation says more investment in community health workers could save the lives of up to 10 newborn Papua New Guinea babies a day.

The Burnet Institute's report, Improving Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Papua New Guinea through Family and Community Health Care, calls for stonger links between local health centres and village health volunteers.

The principal fellow in the Institute's Centre for International Health, Dr Chris Morgan, says family and community care should not be seen as an add-on to building clinics or training professional health care workers.

"Some of the things for saving newborn lives that could be done are helping mothers to establish exclusive breastfeeding as soon as the baby's born, basic education on hygiene to prevent infections and also measures to keep the baby warm because heat loss is a major contributor to illness or even death in the first few days of life."

Dr Chris Morgan says village health volunteers could also be trained to spot early signs of infection and begin treatment with antibiotics.