Today I am pleased to open new midwifery training facilities in Port Moresby, supported by Australia, to boost the number and quality of midwives in Papua New Guinea.

The K7.5 million (approximately $2.8 million) upgrade to the Pacific Adventist University Midwifery School will help Australia and PNG to train 500 additional midwives for PNG by 2015.

In partnership with this private university and the PNG Government, we are increasing the number of skilled supervised births and the use of family planning – the two proven methods to save mothers’ and babies’ lives.

I will be meeting with some of those future midwives who will make an enormous difference to the lives of women in their own communities.

Up to 500 women and men are receiving Australian scholarships from 2011 to 2015 to study midwifery in PNG. Nineteen are currently studying at the Pacific Adventist University.

The new facilities at the Pacific Adventist University Midwifery School include new classrooms, computer laboratories and student and staff accommodation.

Throughout Papua New Guinea, Australia is refurbishing four midwifery schools and building a fifth school to expand capacity to train midwives in quality conditions. Australia also supports midwifery facilitators who work with teachers and students at the schools to improve teaching quality and produce confident graduates.

Up to 1,500 Papua New Guinean women are estimated to die during childbirth every year. Our greatest chance of reversing the number of maternal deaths in PNG is to encourage women to give birth in the presence of a trained midwife.

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