04/05/2012 16:05

REPORTS: PNG A DANGEROUS COUNTRY FOR MOTHERS

PNG gets poor health rating.

Source: The National, Friday 4th May 2012.

PAPUA New Guinea has the second highest rate of maternal mortality in the world – next only to Afghanistan, it has been revealed. Western Highlands provincial health authority chief executive officer Dr James Kintwa made the shocking announcement on 3 May in Mt Hagen during the opening of a new cervical cancer treatment clinic. The function was attended by Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Jamie Maxtone-Graham, Governor Tom Olga, doctors, health workers and the general public at the Mt Hagen Hospital in Western Highlands province. The announcement shocked everybody at the gathering. Dr Kintwa said the high maternal and infant mortality rate did not give good health indicators in the country. He said many mothers died of cervical cancer at a prime age and that portrayed bad health indicators. He said the new clinic, the first of its kind in the country, would help save many mothers and at the same time help improve the country’s health indicators. The new clinic would check mothers for cervical cancer and if tested positive, they would be treated on the spot. Kintwa thanked Olga and his provincial government for funding the clinic at a cost of K200,000. Officer in-charge of the clinic Dr Benny Kombuk said the clinic and its programmes would help save the lives of many women. Kombuk said inspection of the cervix with acetic acid was a new method of screening and treating cervical cancer. He said cervical cancer was the biggest killer of mothers every year. Kombuk said mothers over 30 should go to the clinic for checks. He said the clinic would start operations today with the first 15 mothers booked for inspection and treatment. Western Highlands Council of Women president Paula Mek thanked Olga and the health authority for setting up the new clinic.

Maternal mortality at childbirth has doubled.

Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - In the years between 1990 and 2008, around the world, the rate of maternal mortality in childbirth has decreased by 34%. One cannot say the same unfortunately for Papua New Guinea, where it has doubled. Approximately 99% of pregnant women who died, lived in developing countries, and the risk continues to increase in rural areas. In Papua New Guinea, predominantly a rural area, gender disparities and poor health conditions of services have contributed to the worsening of this phenomenon. According to the United Nations Development Program, the country's maternal mortality rate is 250 deaths per 100,000 live births. In 2006 733 deaths were reported per 100,000 live births, after Afghanistan the highest in the Asia Pacific region. Experts say that the lives of pregnant women could be saved under the medical supervision of birth, prenatal and postnatal care. The World Bank calculates that 17% of the inhabitants of the region cannot use an access road to reach the centers, also two-fifths of the health facilities lack electricity and basic medical equipment. One of the reasons why in Papua New Guinea there are many deaths is due to the fact that 67% of women give birth at home, often without the help of well-prepared midwives. Health facilities run by the Church, about 60% in the country, are the most functional. The Church of the Nazarene operates a district hospital in Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands Province, and health services in the rural area of the province of Jiwaka. Each month, a group of health workers visit 16 rural facilities offering prenatal testing, child care, health education and family planning. The more complex pregnancies are taken to the hospital. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 02/05/2012)

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