Programme aims to cut number of newborn deaths in PNG

10:46 am on 21 January 2019

A programme in Papua New Guinea that hands out sachets of antiseptic could dramatically lower the number of newborn deaths.

Newborn baby

Photo: 123RF

Five thousand babies are estimated to die each year in PNG, a quarter of them from sepsis developed from infections around the umbilical chord in the week after birth.

Dr Chris Morgan, from Australia's Burnet Institute, said a new form of the antiseptic - Chlorhexidine - has been developed that, if successful, could cut those numbers dramatically.

"It's a very simple intervention. You just dab this high strength gel onto the belly button of the newborn baby. But it can reduce newborn death rates in places where they're high by 20 to 30 percent. So it's a very simple intervention."

Chris Morgan said it was simple to apply, cost-effective, and able to be used in remote areas.