Dame Carol Kidu
Burnet Institute’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) program, designed to address the appalling rate of death and disease among women and children in Papua New Guinea (PNG), has a new and influential supporter in Dame Carol Kidu DBE.
Dame Carol becomes the Patron of the new, $10 million, five-year research program, which aims to arrest a maternal mortality rate in PNG that’s one of the highest in the world and 80 times worse than Australia’s.
“The issue of maternal mortality, maternal health and child health is not a health issue, it’s a social issue and a development issue,” Dame Carol said.
“I’ve been a strong advocate on maternal mortality, not just in PNG but regionally, and I recognise that we are nowhere near reaching any of the targets that we are supposed to meet.
“The need for evidence-based approaches is critical, and I’m confident that Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies will inspire and assist enormously. But we need to remember that Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies is only the beginning of a long road. Communities need to take responsibility for the safety of mothers, and that includes men.”
The only female member for the majority of her 15 years in the PNG Parliament, Dame Carol served as Minister for Community Development in the Government of Sir Michael Somare from 2002-2011.
She also founded the Safe Motherhood Alliance of PNG with the aim to build sustainable solutions to the problems of child and maternal health.
Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb said few people understand the complex problems HMHB is seeking to address as clearly and intimately as Dame Carol.
“Dame Carol’s dedication to helping women, young girls and children in her adopted homeland is unparalleled,” Professor Crabb said.
“She understands the need for a program like HMHB and the potential benefits, and her generous support is warmly appreciated.
“Every year more than 5000 babies die in the first month of life in PNG, yet two-thirds of these deaths could be prevented with basic, but effective, interventions.
“HMHB will be partnering local representatives at district, provincial and national level in PNG to find and provide solutions.”
The philanthropically funded research program aims to define and address the causes of poor maternal, newborn and child health, by developing and testing effective interventions.
Born in Queensland, Dame Carol became a naturalised PNG citizen after marrying Buri Kidu, who was knighted upon his appointment as PNG’s first indigenous Chief Justice.
Dame Carol was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005.