Family planning push to address the issue of maternal deaths in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Politicians and health service providers in Papua New Guinea are working to increase access to family planning services.

A fresh endeavour is taking place in Papua New Guinea to boost access to family planning services.

According to Australian Doctors International, PNG's maternal mortality rate of 733 per 100,000 births is the worst in the Pacific region.

It is also estimated that over half of the adult population cannot gain access to family planning assistance.

Earlier this month PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill told parliament correcting misconceptions about contraception was vital for managing population growth and reducing maternal mortality.

"Mr speaker, these implants can be removed any time, when they want to start up a family, and the young women are going to be fertile enough to have children," he said.

"It is not something that is implanted so you will be sterile forever.

"Mr speaker, we want to have population growth in the country but sustainable population growth."

Marie Stopes International is one organisation which provides a range of sexual and reproductive health services in the country.

The director of services for Marie Stopes in PNG, Edith Kariko, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat Program the stigma and lack of education needs to be overcome.

"I totally agree with the politicians that have mentioned that stigma is a challenge for us," she said.

"In a country like Papua New Guinea there is a lot of cultural diversity and beliefs that come along with it, as well as religious beliefs.

"You also have those challenges individually when it comes to making a choice."

Ms Kariko says increasing access, developing better suited plans for individuals and reducing the frequency of visits to clinics are crucial in the long term.

"Usually on coming back women cannot access service or those services are no longer there," she said.

"So we’ve found that to be a problem, but with the use of implant technology that has lengthened the three-month period to four or five years."

PNG maternal health statistics
60 per cent of women do not give birth at a health facility or hospital
53 per cent of pregnant women do not receive any care by trained health personnel
26 per cent of women use contraception
10 per cent of all deaths in PNG are due to perinatal conditions
4.6 is the average number of children per woman
Source: Australian Doctors International


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