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Lack of basic maternal health care cited

By Philip Kepson

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 8, 2008) - More than 730 mothers out of every 1,000 mothers die in Papua New Guinea as a result of lack of basic maternal health service. In other words, one mother dies in every four minutes.

"This is a sad fact about our country and is a result of lack of basic maternal health service," Dr. Betty Koka from the United Nations Fund Population Activities (UNFPA) said during the closing of a week-long workshop on sexual reproductive community advocacy training for community workers in Laiagam, Enga province, last Friday.

She said the main causes for such [a high] death rate [in] the female population were related either to lack of provision of back service or information on diseases such as HIV/AIDS and others, teenage pregnancy and abortion, domestic violence, and other complication related with pregnancy.

Koka said mothers in the rural areas were the worst affected.

Enga provincial administrator Dr. Samson Amean said the maternal mortality rate in the country was among the highest in the world. He said such problems had gone out of control since 1989 when extension and maintenance program on those services were cut down as a result of the Bougainville crisis.

"Since 1989, we have lost focus on extension programs including maintenance of existing facilities and programs on basic maternal health service.

"In fact, the Bougainville crisis had contributed largely to the problems we are now facing," he said.

The workshop was the first of its kind to be held in the country and was aimed at equipping volunteers in areas where there were no proper maternal health services with basic skills on helping people avoid problems that contributed to the increasing maternal mortality rate.

A total of 21 men and women who passed out of the workshop will start educating people in the village about the causes of the increasing death among mothers.

in this country.

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