By CHARLES MOI
THE Government plans to make it compulsory for women to have babies in designated areas where healthcare is available, according to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
He said infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates in PNG were an issue of concern in the global community. He expects to table the plan in Parliament during its January sitting.
“I am very determined to start implementing it in 2017 so that we can save our children and we can save our mothers,” O’Neill said.
“Our Government will fund mothers to come from villagers and stay in urban areas so that they can have their babies and then return.
“I am very determined to implement this.
“It will be compulsory. There will be no excuses for mothers trying to give birth in remote areas.
“We will make sure that they will come (to hospitals) and they must register with the nurses and doctors in health centres and aid posts around the country so that we can monitor the progress of their pregnancy.”
O’Neill last week led a Government delegation which included senior PNG doctors to Cuba to see the health system and facilities there.
A memorandum of understanding was signed in Havana last Wednesday between the two governments which includes the deployment to
PNG of between 20 and 30 doctors from Cuba.
The Cuban doctors will serve in at least 10 district hospitals which presently do not have doctors.
O’Neill said the Health Department would get figures on the birth rates in hospitals in the country.
The aim is to reduce the infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate.
He said Cuba was able to achieve about four in every 1000 birth infant mortality rate.
“Our aim is to bring them (PNG women) into towns and cities and hospitals where there is adequate care that we are going to build up because of the Cubans and the support of the doctors that we are going to roll out,” O’Neill said.
He said the recruitment of Cuban doctors was only a temporary measure as the Government planned to increase the intake of local to be trained as doctors.