Samples from the field being tested in Burnet's HMHB laboratory in Kokopo, PNG.
Burnet Institute research aimed at reducing the high rate of maternal and infant deaths in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is set to benefit from a generous donation from the state-owned Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC).
MRDC’s 100,00 Kina (AUD$46,000) donation will support Burnet’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Program (HMHB), currently in the first phase of a five-year program in Kokopo, East New Britain.
Led by Professor James Beeson, the HMHB team will track the the pregnancies of up to 700 women through to delivery and the following 12 months to identify the key causes of death and disability.
Once identified, a series of health interventions will be trialled to determine the most effective ways to reduce the unacceptably high mortality rate for local women and children.
A woman in PNG is 80 times more likely to die in childbirth than a woman in Australia, and each year more than 5000 babies die in the first month of life. A further 7000 don’t reach their fifth birthday.
Managing Director Augustine Mano said MRDC is pleased to support the HMHB program because it recognises that PNG has one of the world’s worst rates of maternal and infant mortality.
“These infants are the future of this country and in order to have a healthy and happy future, we must do all we can to help make sure they and their mothers who give life to them survive the most crucial and delicate months of their lives,” Mr Mano said.
Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said HMHB is a critically important research program designed to transform the health of women and children in PNG.
“I commend the Mineral Resource Development Company for recognising the impact Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies will make, first in East New Britain and soon after throughout PNG, and for showing exceptional leadership in supporting the project,” Professor Crabb said.
Professor Crabb said through this ambitious program, MRDC joins with Burnet Institute, provincial and national government agencies, and other research and health partners in PNG to identify ways to improve mortality and poor health in pregnant women and their babies.
MRDC’s contribution will help to provide equipment for the fit out of a new laboratory, research staff to carry out tests, and the purchase of four-wheel drive vehicles to enhance the program’s reach in and around Kokopo.
Find out more about Burnet’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program underway in PNG.
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies is a partnership between Burnet Institute, PNG Insitute for Medical Research, University of PNG, East New Britain Provincial Government, and the PNG National Department of Health, as well as health services in East New Britain (St Mary’s Hospital, Vunapope, Nonga Provincial Hospital, Keravat Rural Hospital, and Paparatava and Napapar Health Centres).