FAMILY planning is a vital tool in aligning and balancing population growth with economic progress, the Health Department said.
It said in a media statement this week that as part of the National Population Council, it was committed to providing family planning choices to Papua New Guineans.
The department recently received contraceptive supplies from the United Nations Development Fund (UNFPA).
These consisted of 782,500 vials of Depo provera injectable shots– each shot lasting for three months, 900,000 cycles of combined pills, 50,000 progestin only pills and 1,000 intrauterine loops worth about K1 million.
The pills and injections were sourced from international pharmaceutical companies, Bayers and Pfizer.
The department said high population growth in urban and rural areas were evident in poor housing and road congestions, high unemployment and crimes, and the non-maintenance of facilities such as schools and health centres.
The department said the growing population was putting huge demands on the sea, land and forest.
“Overcrowding has culminated in disputes, deaths and environmental damages.
“Thus, improving of maternal health goes beyond health benefits as it sets precedence for social and economic empowerment.
“It is also a poverty reduction strategy and needs a lot of input and support from the Government,” the department said.
It said it was now working on restructuring the country’s medical supplies system.
The department said medical supplies needed a lot of support, given PNG’s terrains and weak structural and service delivery mechanisms.
“One of the many challenges is to also increase the demand and supply of contraceptives so that unwanted pregnancies and subsequent consequences like maternal deaths can be reduced,” it said.
Reports in 2006 showed that modern contraceptive prevalence rate was as low as 24% while maternal mortality doubled from two to four mothers daily.
Identifying the gaps in the medical supplies system resulted in a memorandum of understanding signed between the department and UNFPA to use the UNFPA’s procurement facilities for a constant flow of reproductive health commodities into the country.
The UNFPA has one of the largest procurement facilities in Copenhagen and assists more than 190 countries to meet reproductive health commodity needs.