Vasectomy promoted in Papua New Guinea
Vasectomies are being promoted in Papua New Guinea in an effort to tackle the country's high maternal death rate.
Vasectomy procedures are being promoted in Papua New Guinea in an effort to tackle the country's high maternal death rate.
Papua New Guinea has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Pacific with 733 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2011, the latest figure from PNG census.
New Zealand's rate for the same year was nine per 100,000 live births.
Politicians, and health specialists from Papua New Guinea attended an open hearing in Wellington to share ideas on engaging Pacific men in sexual health initiatives.
Daniela Maoate-Cox was there.
Religious beliefs and rumors that liken a vasectomy to castration mean men in Papua New Guinea often steer clear of conversations about family planning.
But unplanned pregnancies are common and the risk of dying during child birth or suffering from ill health caused by frequent pregnancies is high.
Edith Kariko is a doctor with the non-government family planning provider, Marie Stopes International, which facilitated 1200 vasectomies in Papua New Guinea last year.
She says men are realising the toll multiple pregnancies are taking on women and want to support their partners but gossip about the procedure is putting men off.
EDITH KARIKO: Well some men have misconceptions that the procedure itself reduces sexual desire and performance and some equivalate it to castration.
The director for Marie Stopes Papua New Guinea, Maarten van de Reep, says most family planning options overlook men.
MAARTEN VAN DE REEP: We need to make sure we bring family planning to men as well and ensure that everyone understands that planning your family size is not only a woman's concern, it's a couples concern. Contrary to what you might think, men will make use of a vasectomy service provided they are given the right information and the service is accessible.
Access to accurate information about sexual and reproductive health in Papua New Guinea is a problem the Australian Burnet Institute hopes to solve with a sexual health tool kit.
An institute spokesperson, Lisa Davidson told the hearing men want to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health but do not feel supported to do so.
LISA DAVIDSON: They felt like they were being blamed for everything, that they were being blamed for violence against women, drinking too much, sexual violence and rape, not caring and not taking responsibility for their own actions and they wanted to know how they could be better men.
Lisa Davidson says more tools that are designed specifically for men are needed if the government is serious about engaging men in sexual health discussions.
The Governor of PNG's Eastern Highlands province, Julie Soso, says the efforts of non-government organisations is valuable but too scattered.
JULIE SOSO: This is what we need to spread everywhere in Papua New Guinea and to our local communities so that they learn about their sexuality and their reproductive health and we really need to partner together. Effective partnership is needed with the government agencies so that we effectively carry out this message to our people.
Representatives from Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu also spoke at the hearing and a report will be compiled with further recommendations on how to get men in the Pacific talking about sexual health.
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