by Meleasie Goviro – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Recent statistics for maternal and newborn mortality rates across the nation essentially reflect the need for attention towards midwifery in Papua New Guinea.
According to Technical Advisor for Maternity Health in PNG, Dr. Lahui Geita, Demographic Health Surveys conducted in 2006 revealed that 733 out of 100,000 women in the country died during childbirth.
Surveys conducted 10 years earlier stood at around 300 of 100,000 women; a severe increase in mortality rates.
Speakers from all spectrums of maternal, newborn, sexual and reproductive health in PNG gathered at todays first Midwifery Symposium to address the high level of maternal mortality rates, and to develop solutions.
Dr. Rufina Latu, Technical Officer at the World Health Organisation, said there was a need for parliamentarians to communicate with the health sector to improve the midwifery agenda in PNG.
She said midwives were trained, but there was only so much they could do to improve maternal services when they weren’t properly equipped to tackle complications or simple deliveries at most health centres. She also said that at present, there weren’t enough midwives to serve the growing population of PNG.
Where availability of midwives wasn’t a problem, there was a lack of resources such as basic delivery safety kits.
According to Jennifer Pyakalyia, acting president of PNG Midwifery Society, the current midwifery training facilities cannot cater for the anticipated number of midwifes needed nationwide.
The society was encouraged to use tools of advocacy to engage political commitment in order to create an avenue to build the society.
Maternity rates are expected to continue to rise if the government doesn’t cooperate with the midwife society to improve service quality, staff quantity and resource availability.