33,000 babies and mothers in Western Highlands Province to benefit from improved maternal and newborn care

19 September 2018
A mother with her newborn child.
A mother with her newborn child.

MT HAGEN, 19 SEPTEMBER 2018 – A maternal and newborn care programme launched today in Mt. Hagen will ensure up to 34,000 babies born over the next three years in Western Highlands Province receive a comprehensive package of care to ensure they survive and thrive.

The programme – Saving Lives, Spreading Smiles -focuses on preventing and managing bleeding after delivery, a common cause of death in mothers and neonatal hypothermia (low body temperature) in newborns. In 2017, UNICEF, the National Department of Health and WHO successfully piloted phase one of the programme. A funding support of K11 million provided by the Australian Government and with support from UNICEF Australia has enabled the programme to be scaled up and expanded to the rest of the country.

The package of care will involve the prevention and management of bleeding after delivery through the use of a Non-Pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment (NASG) for mothers while a hypothermia alert device known locally as the Bebi Kol Kilok will be used to prevent and manage neonatal hypothermia for newborn babies.

Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority Acting CEO Mr David Vorst said that the staff of WHPHA have been working hard to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality and paediatric case mortality rates were now nearly a third lower than the national average.

“This innovative programme launched today will see a further improvement in those key indicators and more mothers and babies will survive,” he said.

Some 6,000 babies in PNG die every year before they reach four weeks of age. Neonatal hypothermia is the underlying cause of many deaths, however, 42 per cent of these deaths can be prevented with correct management of hypothermia.

Western Highlands Province is the first province to launch this programme. UNICEF PNG in collaboration with the Department of Health will work directly with Western Highlands Provincial Government, the district authorities, church health services and local non-government organisations to promote the implementation of this programme.

“I am very proud to see the rollout of this programme in Mt. Hagen,” said the Chief Executive Officer of UNICEF Australia, Mr. Tony Stuart.

“This package of care promotes simple cost effective life-saving practices that are so crucial for mothers and newborns to survive. We thank the Australian government for their generous funding and UNICEF Australia for their support which will help us implement this programme throughout the country,” UNICEF Country Representative, David Mcloughin said.

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Noreen Chambers
Communication Specialist
Tel: +675 321 3000


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