Maternal mortality rate rising in PNG

11:02 am on 1 June 2018

Maternal mortality rates in Papua New Guinea appear to have become worse over the past five years with the risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth now estimated at 1 in every 120 women.

A healthcare worker conducts an antenatal examination in PNG.

A healthcare worker conducts an antenatal examination in PNG. Photo: Supplied/ Larissa Tuohy

The rates have been revealed in a new report by ChildFund Australia which says maternal health is an unrecognised crisis in PNG.

A new report by the aid agency ChildFund Australia said Women in PNG were 35 times more likely to die during pregnancy and labour than women in Australia.

According to the head of the aid agency Nigel Spence, women in PNG die every day during childbirth due to unsafe conditions and preventable causes.

He said the rate of maternal and infant deaths was at a very high level, with the situation particularly bad in rural areas.

"For example the number of women who are attending a proper clinic where there's trained support, the numbers have reduced in the last five years.

"The number of women receiving antenatal checkups during pregnancy, some of the statistics are showing that the numbers have reduced. So in some respects the situation does seem to be worsening, which is quite different to most other countries in the region."

Nigel Spence said there was an urgent need for more midwives and better health facilities particularly in the rural villages and districts where most women are giving birth.