“No woman should die to give life.” So says former Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Health, the Hon. Dr Puka Temu who describes his nation’s maternal mortality rate as a national emergency. We agree and that is why OCDP is at the forefront of tackling this emergency through internationally recognised programs such as Helping Babies Breathe and Helping Mothers Survive. Our leading OCDP experts in the field deliver these programs to Oro Province.
In Australia, six women in every 100, 000 die giving birth, according to United Nations figures. In PNG, the figure is 24 times higher – 145 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Australia, the infant mortality rate is an average of 3.1 for every 1000 live births. In PNG, it is 38 per 1000.Most of these deaths of mothers and babies are preventable. Haemorrhages, infections and pre-eclampsia and eclampsia – high blood pressure in pregnant women that can lead to convulsions – are readily treated, provided the resources and skills are available. The same applies to conditions such as infection and asphyxia which cause infant deaths.
The UN Population Fund and Australia’s Burnet Institute have collaborated with the PNG National Department of Health to deliver maternal health programs to five provinces. At this stage, Oro is not one of these provinces. These include the same programs we have been implementing in Oro for the past five years for staff at Popondetta General Hospital as well as staff of medical centres in the province.
The expertise and enthusiasm of our medical teachers has inspired participants, many of whom are keen to receive further training. The World Health Organisation has recognised the success of these programs and expressed interest in utilising our skills to continue delivering them.
Most of the financial support is provided to the PNG National Department of Health, so we urgently need your help to continue this vital work.