High number of premature deaths in PNG

PORT MORESBY, 29 NOVEMBER 2018 (POST COURIER/ONE PNG) – Of the estimated 25,000 babies born prematurely in Papua New Guinea each year, over 4500 do not survive their early birth.

While under five deaths are due to direct preterm birth complications.

UNICEF Papua New Guinea representative David Mcloughlin made this known on the commemoration of the World Prematurity Day, saying that PNG has a high number of its children dying under the age of five which includes babies born premature.

“World Prematurity Day which is part of a global effort to raise awareness of the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

“It is this reality that led to the first World Prematurity Day being observed on November 17 in 2011 so that all of us are more aware of what we need to do.

“Today is an opportunity to call attention to the heavy burden of death and disability and the pain and suffering that preterm births cause, it is also a chance to talk about solutions,”  Mcloughlin said.

He said these solutions would simultaneously reduce maternal deaths, stillbirths and related health system costs and they included using technology and innovation to assist those affected.

Health Department’s executive manager of public health Dr Sibauk Bieb said addressing premature delivery and low birth weight challenges are part of PNG’s National Newborn Survival Strategy.

“Improving knowledge and awareness of health workers as well as parents is critically important for the growth and survival of these newborns.

“The Health Department is committed to reach the goals set forth in the action plan for healthy newborn infants in the Western Pacific region,” he said.

He said babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.

He said many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems.

Meanwhile, sexual and physical violences are among the highest form of violence that affect families in the country, says Morobe Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) coordinator Thelma Hungito.

A study has showed two women out of three interviewed revealed that they had at least once experienced some form of violence in their family.

“On many occasions this violence happened within the family units by perpetrators who are also members of the family,” Hungito said.

She said this during an awareness campaign at Bumayong, targeting the many problems within communities relating to violence in family units.

The campaign also launched 10 awareness activities at different locations in Lae in conjunction with the 21-day activism campaign against gender-based violence.

The program was jointly carried out by major business houses and non-governmental organisations.

Hungito said 2013 Family Protection Act criminalised domestic violence in family units and the act also covered men who were sometimes the victims.

It was also revealed that the three main parties that were the main causes of domestic violence were the father of the family, uncle and the step-father of a child.

Morobe Empowerment Youths Organisation (Meyo) founder Hendry Dinding said his organisation in partnership with stakeholders are working to eliminate all forms of violence in the community.

“The awareness at ward 5, Lae urban local-level government aims at telling the people to take the responsibility to say no to all forms of violence that affect women and girls, men and family units,” he said.

Meyo is the only community-based organisation that is in the fore front to campaign against violence in the province and is working closely with partners to educate people in settlements, blocks and in other districts of Morobe.

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