Australia will fund a $5 million program of immunisations, paediatric and ante-natal care for more than 320,000 mothers and newborns in Myanmar, helping save hundreds of women and children's lives at risk from preventable disease.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Myanmar was one of the poorest countries in the region, with an infant mortality rate ten times higher than Australia's.
"This is what Australians do — providing much-needed humanitarian aid and helping save lives at risk from preventable disease," Senator Carr said.
"Tragically, one in 14 Myanmar children will die before their fifth birthday. Often the cause of death is a preventable condition like pneumonia, diarrhoea or malaria.
"Pregnancy complications such as haemorrhage are also a major cause of death for new mothers.
"We'll be working to save the lives of women and infants through immunisations and medical supplies, and through funds for better delivery rooms in remote Myanmar villages.
"Our $5 million in aid will be delivered immediately — to World Health Organisation and United Nations teams working with mothers and newborns in around 3,000 villages nationwide."
Australia's aid contribution would:
- Immunise more than 140,000 expectant mothers against tetanus in remote villages;
- Immunise about 182,000 newborns against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus;
- Refurbish 20 delivery rooms in poor townships;
- Provide treatment for 60,000 women with malaria;
- Train paediatricians and health clinic staff in advanced and basic newborn care; and
- Provide clean delivery kits and equipment for mobile outreach ante-natal care.
Funds would also go to the Joint UN Program on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Myanmar including for health guidelines and midwife training.
Program services would be delivered by the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children's Fund and United Nations Population Fund in 2012.
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