The Maternal Health and Care Program

Goddard and Tyne recognise the critical need for Maternal Health & Care Programmes (MHC), especially in remote rural areas of PNG that are more inaccessible because of the geography. Our aim is to further develop programs such as the MHC, as part of our ongoing commitment to creating long term health care solutions for the people of PNG.

Our team on the ground have highlighted the critical need for an effective program that also includes cheap and effective transportation. The thinking is that an effective transportation network would encourage women to make use of antenatal and obstetric care.

We believe the MHC programme is vitally important to arrest an unnecessary situation, where the current maternal mortality rate in PNG is the highest in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICT) and one of the highest in the world, second only to Afghanistan. The MHC program has as one of its principal objectives, aims to increase the attendance rate of births by skill and well equipped village birth attendants. Making this a priority will decrease maternal mortality by improving the conditions in which expectant mothers give birth.

Mothers play a vital and important role in the family unit and their death at child birth is a tragedy. This is even more so when it is largely avoidable. The major factors contributing to the problems faced by mothers giving birth in PNG include an acute shortage of village midwives and accessibility to medical services when complications arise. These issues can be addressed with the MHC programme.

PICTs with the highest maternal mortality ratios (deaths per 100,000 births)

Source: Family Planning International & SPC (2009) A Measure of the Future: Women's Sexual and Reproductive Risk Index for the Pacific 2009

The maternal mortality rate is very high when compared to countries like Australia whose maternal mortality rate is 8 per 100,000 births. In addition to the recorded figures it should also be noted that it is believed many maternal deaths in remote areas go unrecorded. This means that where the recorded maternal mortality rate in PNG is over 90 times higher than that in Australia the real figure could be much higher. It is these mothers and their children in PNG that are most at risk and in need of help. The urgency of this situation has already been recognised by the United Nations who tabled a report in 2009, which was endorsed by Australia and 55 other countries, and dealt directly with preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights.

What can we do to help reduce the maternal mortality rate?

There is plenty that can be done to help PNG people to help themselves. What's even more exciting is that simple solutions are available and are the easiest to implement. The following are the areas Goddard and Tyne are focusing on to arrest this problem.

  • Village birthing kits
  • Transport to get mothers to medical facilities if complications arise
  • Training of skilled birthing attendants

Village birthing kit

What's in a PNG village birthing kit?
  • 1 metre square of plastic (no particular thickness or quality is required, since it is used to provide a clean area for the delivery and then discarded)
  • 1 metre square of old linen (make sure it is clean)
  • 2 cloth nappies (no disposable ones, may be second hand)
  • 2 safety/nappy pins (useful but not essential)
  • 5-10 squares of gauze available from the chemist, or 3-4 inch (75-100 mm) squares of soft cloth/linen to be used as wipes
  • 2 x 20-25cm (8-10ins) pieces of ½ inch cotton tape (similar to bias binding) for tying the cord
  • 2 disposable gloves
  • 1 cake of soap
  • 1 baby size singlet (newborn size - may be second hand)
  • Pack the above items in a press seal or zip lock plastic bag

The birthing kit is a great way of getting involved and represents a positive step forward that school and community groups can get behind for little to no cost. Goddard and Tynne can arrange for collection of village birthing kits and will arrange to ship them to PNG for expectant mothers to use. If you'd like to make a birthing kit then contact us to find out how we can work together to make a difference for expectant mothers in PNG.

Transport to get expectant mothers to medical aid.

As is the case with any birth complications sometimes occur that even the most skilled midwife needs help to resolve. The key to saving a mother and her child in situations like this is in having reliable transport at hand to move the expectant mother to a medical aid quickly.

To make this a reality Goddard and Tyne are looking for donations of older 4x4 vehicles which can be maintained by villagers under the Goddard and Tyne Engineering Development Program. Vehicles that have outlived their usefulness here in Australia are ideal candidates. Goddard and Tyne will collect and ship the vehicle, then arrange for it to be repaired and put into service. 4x4 vehicles are preferred because the roads in PNG rural areas are not the best and vehicles need to be robust enough to cope with average road conditions.

If you would like to know more about Goddard and Tyne please Take a look at some of our work and initiatives or you can contact us.