Dr Liz Peach with HMHB's Ms Kerryanne Tokmun at Nonga Hospital, Papua New Guinea.
Burnet’s Dr Liz Peach has been recognised with the Graham Rouch Award of the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (Victoria), of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).
The award is for the best Public Health Medicine Trainee research presentation in Victoria.
During her presentation, Dr Peach highlighted Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) research about unintended pregnancy and family planning use among pregnant women in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
As HMHB Research Project Manager based in East New Britain, Dr Peach led the Kokopo-based research team who interviewed pregnant women attending antenatal clinics to evaluate a range of health issues and needs.
Dr Peach said that findings from the data collected highlighted many important health issues facing mothers and babies in East New Britain.
Once the outcomes of the HMHB research studies are known, Burnet and our partners in PNG and Australia aim to work with PNG’s provincial governments to introduce life-saving public health interventions, including strengthening clinical services and educating women and children.
Knowledge and education about family planning is one key issue arising from the HMHB research, Dr Peach said.
“Most participants had very little knowledge about what family planning is or how to access it,” she explained.
“There is also a significant role of other social and personal factors that can be barriers to its use, including stigma against people who use family planning and fear of family planning side effects.
“Most participants indicated that their pregnancy was unplanned due to limited knowledge of, or access to, family planning.
“Very few participants had ever used a modern method of family planning, there are not many different types of methods used, and there is an over-reliance on ineffective traditional methods."
Many women expressed a strong interest in learning more about family planning.
“Interestingly, there appeared to be a positive influence of male partner involvement in women’s antenatal care on reducing unintended pregnancy and increasing family planning use. There was also a relationship between geographical location and family planning use,“ she said.
“These data are important because there is currently little data available in PNG on pregnancy intention and family planning use.
“Addressing the unmet need for family planning is such a cost-effective way to reduce maternal mortality. Reducing obstetric risks associated with unintended pregnancies and giving families the ability to adequately space their pregnancies helps them maximise their health and their children’s health and to build healthy families.
“We, and our research partners in Australia and PNG, hope to be able to use these data to inform future interventions to increase demand for family planning and improve supply of family planning.”
This work involves a partnership with the ENB Provincial Government and health services, the PNG Institute for Medical Research, the University of PNG, and the Kirby Institute of New South Wales.
Click here to find out more about HMHB – Research to save mothers and babies in PNG.