THE infant mortality rates in the Momase and Highlands regions have decreased significantly during the past 10 years while maternal health has not improved at all.
According to findings presented yesterday from the recent demographic and health survey carried out in 2006 by the National Statistical Office of PNG in close consultation with provincial administrators in all provinces, the decline was notable in the rural areas.
The Highlands region recorded a total of 114 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1996, however, in 2006, there was a sharp decline to 72 deaths per 1,000 live births.
In the same period in Momase, the figure was 76 per 1,000 live births in 1996 but was reduced to 55 deaths per 1,000 in 2006.
Francesca Tinabar, the workshop facilitator, said this was a good finding as it showed that childhood indicators had improved with low childhood diseases, high vaccination coverage, and breast feeding becoming universal.
However, Ms Tinabar said despite the decrease in IMR, maternal health had deteriorated in the past 10 years as well.
She says maternal health indicators such as tetanus totox coverage, place of delivery, assistance at delivery, delivery complications have deteriorated in many parts of PNG resulting in more neonatal deaths.
She said this might be a result of aid posts and clinics being closed in many rural and some urban areas of the country.
The other significant finding presented during the two-day workshop was that many young women were also delaying marriage with 72% in 1996 to 69% in 2006.
The survey found that many young women chose to get married at the age of 20, however, although this was still the case, the number getting married in 2006 were less than those in 1996.
The report did not specify what age women delayed their marriages to.
The reasons discussed were to do with more young women in urban areas having formal education, greater access to contraceptives, awareness on the subject and increased standard of living, among other things.