First ever Health Week Campaign aims to reach thousands of children and mothers in Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 28 August, 2008 – The World Health Organization and UNICEF call for increased attention and care for children and mothers as the first National Health Week gets underway in Papua New Guinea. UNICEF and WHO commend the Governor General and Minister for Health for their demands that greater attention be given to maternal and child health, made at the opening of National Health Week. With the highest rate of child mortality in the Pacific Region and one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, the National Health Week highlights the urgency of this situation.
As part of the UN support to National Health Week, UNICEF and WHO are supporting the National Department of Health to reach 400,000 children under 5 and one million women of reproductive age, with primary health services, in some of the hardest to reach locations in Eastern Highlands; Simbu; Western Highlands; East Sepik; Milne Bay; and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
National Health Week will see children immunized against tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, influenza and polio. An accelerated service delivery will be mounted for pregnant mothers especially for ante-natal, delivery and post-natal stages.
Papua New Guinea has one of the lowest immunization rates in the pacific region and highest rates of women suffering and dying due to complications related to pregnancy and child birth. “WHO and the partners want to see that women and children, who are in need of health care, take the opportunity to visit the nearest facilities during this campaign, ” said Dr. Eigil Sorensen, Representative of the World Health Organization in Papua New Guinea. “This is a timely move as the country strives to meet the MDGs,”“ he added.
In addition to problems with the primary health care system, violence against children and women is also a public health crisis, according to Mr. Hamish Young, UNICEF Representative. He urged the health sector to help address the cycle of violence against children and women, and stated, “I cannot emphasize enough that violence against children and women, as well as being a significant human rights problem is also a serious public health crisis for Papua New Guinea and needs to be dealt with immediately”.
Children continue to die from preventable or treatable illness and conditions as diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, measles undernutrition, low birth weight and pneumonia in Papua New Guinea. Provision of basic health services remains very limited, particularly in rural areas.
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