Zibe: Maternal mortality rate soars

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

PNG has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Asia-Pacific region and it has doubled over the past decade, Minister for Health Sasa Zibe says.
Zibe said the fact that more than 700 mothers died giving birth reflected the poor health services for Papua New Guinean women.
Launching the maternal death audit reporting form and a two-day maternal health workshop, Zibe said preliminary analysis of selected data from the 2006 demographic health survey showed the maternal mortality rate had doubled from 370 per 100,000 live births in 1996 to 733 in 2006.
Zibe said an estimated 773 deaths for every 100,000 live births placed PNG as the second worst in the Asia-Pacific region behind Afghanistan.
“This poor health status of PNG has to be reversed and as a step towards this, the health minister’s officers must have a secretariat that provides appropriate advice and technical support for his endeavours to improve the health of the nation,” he said.
Zibe said if the secretariat was established, its mission would be to facilitate and support the delivery of effective and efficient health care services, particularly maternal health, to all Papua New Guineans irrespective of their status or location.
World Health Organisation representative Dr William Adu-Krow said despite great achievements in reducing maternal mortality in the world, “PNG is still far from improving maternal health as agreed to by the international community when the United Nations Millennium Development Goals were formulated”.
It is understood that MDG 5 calls for reduction of maternal mortality by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.
He said from results of a demographic and health survey and estimation of maternal mortality conducted by UN agencies, “PNG is not on track to achieve this commitment.
“It is proof that it is easy to make commitments but much more difficult to make a real change,” he said.
“It is not a secret that 99% of the maternal deaths happen in developing countries, however maternal deaths can be averted even when resources for health are limited and PNG is not an exception,” Adu-Krow said.
He said the forms for reporting maternal death was a tool that would help the country count every maternal death and “use it as a lesson to improve the services and prevent other similar events”.