The National, Friday 7th September, 2012
By SALLY TIWARI
PAPUA New Guinea’s hope of achieving Millennium Development Goal number four of reducing child maternal mortality relies on its efforts to improve neonatal survival in the country, a senior gynacologist says.
Prof Glen Mola said from the child survival call for action conference in Washington in June, it was seen that the country’s maternal mortality rate had decreased at a rate much slower than the rest of the world.
“In fact, the 2006 demographic health survey suggests that it might have gone up in the past 10 to 15 years,” he said.
Mola said neonatal death rates varied in PNG: In the provincial hospitals they were quite low, from six to nine deaths per 1,000, but for rural unattended deliveries they could be as high as 50 per 1,000.
“This makes the average figure that UN agencies quote as neonatal death rate 30 relatively meaningless,” he said.
He said if infant mortality was 55 per 1000, the neonatal component was 5%, while child mortality, which was 75 per 1,000, had a neonatal component of 40%.
He said Bangladesh and Malawi were two low income-earning countries whose neonatal deaths rates had reduced significantly.
He said that was because their health care interventions were focused on family planning and newborn survival.
He said the global causes for neonatal deaths were mostly pre-term birth complications, while tetanus made up only 1% of the cause.
He said although PNG recently caught up with the tetanus immunisation, which cost millions to implement this would not reduce neonatal deaths.
He said intra-partum care required total functionality of the health system, including the referral pathways
Mola said neonatal care needed dedicated maternity care workers who could be attentive to quite a lot of detail.
He said the focus must be on the mother’s health in order to save the baby in terms of proper education on family planning, nutrition, birth plan, as well as proper care from maternity care worker.