UNICEF, NDoH and St John team up to enhance coverage in maternal, newborn and child health services

14 July 2020
St John Ambulance CEO, Matt Cannon, Acting Health Secretary, Dr. Paison Dakulala and UNICEF Representative, David Mcloughlin at the signing event.
Noreen Chambers
St John Ambulance CEO, Matt Cannon, Acting Health Secretary, Dr. Paison Dakulala and UNICEF Representative, David Mcloughlin at the signing event.

PORT MORESBY, 14 July 2020 UNICEF today signed a new partnership with St John Ambulance in Papua New Guinea to support a package of interventions aimed at enhancing pre-hospital and ambulance care for maternal, new-born and child health.

The partnership, which is being supported by the Australian Government, was formalized through a Programme Cooperation Agreement that covers a three-year period from 2020 to 2022. This provides a framework that UNICEF, the National Department of Health and St John committed to jointly amplify impact in the health and wellbeing of mothers and children.

“This collaboration of partners represents a shared commitment to ensuring mothers, newborns and children receive appropriate life-saving pre-hospital emergency care and that communities including the general public and  health workers are empowered to engage in preventative health care activities that will also enable them to initiate vital first aid care,” UNICEF Representative, David Mcloughlin said.

“UNICEF thanks the Government of Australia for its support through the maternal, newborn and child health flagship program, Saving Lives Spreading Smiles. We also congratulate Government of PNG through the leadership of NDoH for successfully piloting and subsequently scaling up the SLSS program in all 22 provinces,” Mcloughlin added.

The MOU highlights shared care objectives that are focused on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Ambulance Operations, during referral transport and Community Education.

Commissioner Matt Cannon OStJ, Chief Executive of St John said, “the partnership with UNICEF will ensure that St John has resources and expertise to save mothers and infants in PNG, where no one else can."

Hon Jelta Wong, Minister for Health said, “St John is the government’s lead partner in the national ambulance service. The support from UNICEF and Australian Government to St John will help improve emergency care for women and children in rural and disadvantaged communities in this country – it’s a giant leap forward in bringing reliable and trusted care to people where it is needed, when it is needed.”

This partnership will enhance the capacities of UNICEF, NDoH and St John to deliver on long term objectives of reducing maternal, infant and child deaths.

“Australia supports the initiative of building and strengthening partnerships for long term sustainability. This partnership between NDOH, St John Ambulance and UNICEF is significant to achieving a wide impact on maternal and newborn health. Every baby should have a chance in life, no mother should die from giving life. The Australian Government is committed to supporting the PNG Government’s priorities to improve its health indicators,” Australian High Commission, Jon Philip said.

Under the MOU, the package of interventions includes funding for equipment to support ground and air ambulance services, Obstetric and Neonatal Care kits, Telemedicine Clinical Support Staff and training programs for St John staff and Village Health Volunteers.

The poor health status of mothers and children in this country is no secret so having more partners dedicated to to improving the lives of this group of people should be encouraged

“The government cannot do it alone and we are thankful to the many partners we have in the health sector, including St John Ambulance,’’ said Acting Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala.

“May I take this opportunity to thank everyone, but particularly businesses that have been supporting St John Ambulance to do its work of providing ambulance services to our people for free.’’

Dr Dakulala acknowledged the work of Matt Cannon, CEO for St John Ambulance and staff, saying it takes courage and passion to continue to provide a service such as the ambulance service when resources are not always available.

“We hope that this new partnership being forged under the Saving Lives Spreading Smiles Programme will bring help to address some of the challenges that you face in your work of helping save lives of mothers and children,’’ Dr Dakulala added.

 The MOU was signed at the St John Ambulance premises by CEO of St John Ambulance, Matthew Cannon, Acting Health Secretary, Dr, Paison Dakulala, and UNICEF Representative, David Mcloughlin.

Media contacts

Noreen Chambers
Communication Specialist
Tel: +675 321 3000


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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