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No medical facilities available in rural areas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 5, 2008) – Six mothers out of 10 die every year from childbirth complications in Morobe Province.

The Division of Health in Morobe has said the death toll was high because there were no proper facilities in rural areas to care for pregnant mothers and the baby they were carrying.

"Lives of many mothers were at risk during pregnancy because they do not attend proper antenatal clinics to verify the status of the foetus.

"The Health Department is still looking for ways on how to deliver proper health services to the rural areas," head of the health services in Morobe, Dr Likei Theo said.

Dr Theo highlighted the sad situation when he officially opened the new child delivery house built under the Sililim/Badibo Village Birth Attendant (VBA) program.

The opening coincided with the launching of the Healthy Island Program (HIP) concept at Mayong village in Gain-Kusip parish of Nawaeb electorate last Friday.

Dr Theo said mothers were the society’s backbone but they were not given the right education during pregnancy in order for them to deliver healthy babies.

He said as a result, many mothers face difficulties in giving birth.

"Many mothers bleed heavily, others miscarry and they go through a hard time trying to expel the placenta straight after child birth, resulting in death," he said.

"Many sicknesses that affect mothers are mostly in the womb and rural mothers, mostly the illiterate ones, think it’s the work of witchcraft and sorcerers.

"They need proper education about health issues during pregnancy," said Dr Theo.

He said this was a serious concern which the national Health Department had been trying to deal with for more than 30 years.

Dr Theo said the secret to effectively deal with the issue lies in the rural areas with the people themselves.

He said that the Government must involve rural communities as partners to use their skills and experience to deliver health services.

"Impart the knowledge to them, guide and advise them and allow them to take ownership of the program and let them mobilise themselves to utilise available resources and implement in their own time," Dr Theo said.

He said village mothers must be encouraged to be involved in health programs like VBA, the healthy island concept and other health programs for them to understand their own health status and difficulties relating to pregnancy, child birth, child rearing and family hygiene.

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