Five women die everyday during childbirth


THE number of women dying during childbirth in Papua New Guinea has doubled since 1996, but the issue has not been declared an emergency because it is not a disease, a meeting was told yesterday.

A roundtable meeting on safe motherhood held at the Parliament Function room has also heard that five women in Papua New Guinea die during childbirth everyday.

This is one of the highest maternal death rates in the Asia-Pacific region and a small group of people that had attended this meeting want to do something about it. They represented clinicians, midwives, community practitioners at the frontlines of tackling the issue such as the Susu Mamas, policymakers, advocates such as the Voice which is a group of students at the University of Papua New Guinea and the disabled community.

The discussions highlighted issues such as a need to train more midwives as there are not enough around; lack of basic health care for majority of the people in rural areas; the need to improve and strengthen family planning services and maternal health care programs; and the need to tackle gender related violence that is contributing to ill-health of women.

The lack of infrasfracture in rural areas to lure health workers to rural areas had also been highlighted as one of the reasons for specialist health workers refusing to go to work in rural areas.

“It is about helping families.I don’t know which man would want to see their sister die,’’ Ms Fifer, Chairperson of the Australian Safe Motherhood for All Alliance, said, when highlighting the urgency of tackling the high mortality rate in PNG. “This is a sister solidarity issue.’’

Ms Fifer said Cairns, Australia, was only 40 minutes away from PNG and yet there were great disparities in the number of women dying due to childbirth in both countries.

Many in Australia, she said, are shock when given statistics on the high maternal mortality rate in this country and would want to help improve life for their sisters.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Assistant country representative Dr Gabriel Hiawalyer said UNFPA was ready to help in the formation of a network whose aim is to make a difference in the battle to reduce the high maternal mortality rate.

The organization has also helped supported the set up of the PNG Parliamentary Population and Development Committee to advocate in Parliament on issues relating to population and is currently assisting the committee to set up a secretariat to help the committee.

Dame Carol said there was a need to form an alliance or a group to advocate on safe motherhood in order for decision-makers such as the Parliament to take note and allocate resources for safe motherhood.

She also said she was not being asked questions on the floor of Parliament on issues on children and women because of lack of knowledge so MPs needed to be made aware of these issues.

World Health Organisation country representative Dr Eigil Sorensen said the doubling of the number of women dying due to complications in childbirth and pregnancy was shocking, particularly when PNG is a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The goal number 5 is on maternal health and the promise by signatories of MDGs is to reduce maternal mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.

Meanwhile, President of the Assembly of Disabled Persons Ipul Powaseu has urged that the safe motherhood programs must be inclusive of the persons with disabled persons who have a right to have children, but often due to ignorance they are not being given the care due to them.


The blame has to be Somare and his government. They set the pace on how services should be provided for it's citizens. When they are too busy big naming themselves and as long as their family can get best medical treatment, best education, best opportunities to get themselves rich, the dying mothers your article is about does not come into their attention.

How does Dame Carol expect questions from those sleepy, boastful, self-centred humans that sit in the parliament as a show when it suits them. I bet most of them do not keep up with the latest developments here and abroad on these areas of concern to ask intelligent questions. I would guess most of these characters spend one hour each day to read and that would be the local newspaper concerning their little politics they seem to play.

Thankfully we have a very small percent trying their best like Dame Carol and Alan Marat. We need more of these selfless characters to make positive progress and meet real needs, otherwise guess where we are heading ???

Papua New Guinea is rich in minerals and Many others that are all contributing to the income of our Nation. Unfortunately the question is always asked, Where have all our resources taken to and where is the feedback. This is unanswered and that is why there are more problems arising and are not attended to. With the government, the Somare Government is most and transparently clear that they practice self interest. This resulted in ignorance of the health of the PNG population. Mostly affected is our poor grandmothers, mothers and our sisters who are definitely going to face the same curable problems. This is disgracing and most adds a sad part to many families in the country. Therefore, we can follow every advice given by the health department but the government who ignores the cry of the striving workers in search of self interest leads the path to death of mothers who don't deserve to die at their present age.