The Need

Just one hour north of Australia, women and children in PNG are needlessly losing their lives.

The rate of maternal and child death in Papua New Guinea is staggeringly high.

Each year, more than 1500 mothers lose their life and more than 5,000 newborns perish in the first month of life. Another 7,000 children don’t reach their fifth birthday. Two-thirds of these newborn deaths could be prevented with effective interventions.

In response to these appalling mortality rates, Burnet Institute’s philanthropically funded, collaborative research program, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) is aimed at providing life-saving research for women and children in PNG.

HMHB involves strong collaborations with partners at the district, provincial and national level in PNG, with initial research programs based in Kokopo, East New Britain.

The program addresses three major needs:

  • Developing and testing better ways to provide interventions of proven effectiveness to communities that currently lack access.
  • Defining the major disease burdens that contribute to maternal and infant mortality, such as anaemia, malaria, TB, STIs, malnutrition, and maternal complications of childbirth.
  • Developing new and more effective interventions to improve maternal and child health.

HMHB Field Site: Kokopo, East New Britain

Burnet’s research team is led by Professor James Beeson, Dr Chris Morgan and Dr Michelle Scoullar.

Local staff are based in Kokopo, East New Britain. Blood and other samples taken from mothers and babies are analysed for infections and nutritional deficiencies at the HHMB laboratory on the St Mary’s Hospital grounds.

The team is working in partnership with five of the busiest health facilities in the Province, two urban hospitals and three rural facilities, that deliver more than 6000 babies every year. They include St Mary’s Hospital, Nonga General Hospital, Napapar Health Centre, Paparatava Health Centre and Keravat Rural Hospital.

Contact Details

Professor James Beeson

MBBS, BMedSc, PhD, FAFPHM, FAAHMS | Deputy Director (People); Head of Malaria Immunity and Vaccines Laboratory; Adjunct Professor Monash University