In these conditions, it is little wonder that PNG has some of the region’s highest rates of maternal and newborn deaths. It is estimated that one in 120 women will lose their life due to a maternal cause, compared to Australia’s one in every 8,700.
And unlike many other developing countries in the region where signs of progress in maternal and child health are evident, these rates are not improving.
Many factors have contributed to this continuing problem, most notably PNG’s extreme shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives as well as the facilities, medicine and equipment that would prevent many of these tragedies.
However, there are also many people on the frontline who, every day, are committed to making sure childbirth is the safe, joyous event it should be.
Commitments by the PNG Government, the National Health Plan and support from international aid donors are essential but clearly not enough, as the current statistics show. Much greater investment and sustained implementation are imperative.
There are few more pressing challenges than preventing the health crisis that is unfolding on our doorstep. ChildFund will continue to work with leaders, healthcare professionals and local communities to develop long-term improvements.
In the short-term we are equipping communities and frontline workers with the essentials they need to save the lives of mothers and their newborns in PNG.