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Australia Supports Maternal and Child Health in the Pacific

Media release

5 August 2010

Australia will provide up to $85 million over four years to Pacific Island countries to protect the lives of mothers, newborn babies and children.

Australia’s contribution to maternal and child health in the Pacific will support the efforts of Pacific governments to make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically MDG 4 (child health), MDG 5 (maternal health) and MDG 6 (HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases).

This is a practical and necessary Australian response to the Port Vila Declaration on Accelerating Progress on the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals issued by Pacific Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum in Vanuatu today.

Women in the Pacific continue to die of preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth because they lack proper care. The maternal mortality rate in PNG is 733 per 100,000 births. In Kiribati it is 284, and in the Solomon Islands it is 142 per 100,000. In Australia the figure is four per 100,000. Children under five continue to die from common, preventable diseases.

Australia’s support will enable Pacific health training institutions to increase the numbers of doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers in the region.

Australia will also fund improvements in the delivery of health services across the Pacific, through better procurement of medicines and medical supplies and improved national health planning.

Australia’s funding will ensure that the United Nations agencies in the region, including UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Population Fund, have the support they need to help Pacific countries improve the delivery of health services for their people.

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