A report into Papua New Guinea maternity services suggests about 6000 more midwives are needed to cope with a population growing at three percent per year.
The 2019 Maternal and Newborn Health Taskforce report is currently being prepared for PNG's Minister of Health.
It estimates 2000 women die each year during pregnancy and childbirth, with up to 20,000 stillborn or neonatal deaths.
Glen Mola, professor of reproductive health at the University of PNG, said after a long gap with no midwifery training there's been recent progress.
"We have various levels of midwife, of course. We have the professional university trained registered nurse midwife who is doing it as a post graduate degree, and we've managed to train an extra 700 of these since we re-established midwifery training in 2012," Professor Mola said.
"But 700 in a country of nearly 10 million is a couple of drops in the ocean."
Only 40 percent of women receive childbirth support in health centres, Professor Mola said.
But with 85 per cent of women living in rural areas, only a fraction are getting skilled care close to home, he said.
"Clearly we have to make the rural health facilities more credible places, safer places, better places, more attractive places for women to come and have a supervised birth."
The government should take the report's recommendations seriously and properly fund safe maternity services, Professor Mola said.