February 24, 2010

Five women a day die in the Pacific region due to pregnancy or childbirth related causes and New Zealand should do more to help, a new report says.

National MP Jackie Blue is chairwoman of the New Zealand Parliamentarians' group on Population and Development (NZPPD) which has released Making Maternal Health Matter.

It calls on all governments in the region - including New Zealand - to do more.

It recommended New Zealand and Australia ring fence 15 per cent of official development assistance for sexual and reproductive health, with a proportion of that funding to be allocated specifically for family planning and care during and after pregnancy and childbirth.

Dr Blue said the report came out of a September hearing where individuals and organisations working within the field raised concerns.

Some Pacific Island countries were improving but the death rate averaged across the region was five women a day, the majority in Melanesia.

"We know what is needed to prevent so many of these deaths. Access to family planning services and contraceptives, more midwives and better facilities to name a few. But it also requires the political willingness to prioritise and invest in this area," Dr Blue said.

Access to family planning, contraceptives and maternity care was limited for many Pacific women.


Teenage pregnancy rates in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands were among the highest in the world.

The NZPPD is a cross-party group with currently 44 members representing almost 40 per cent of all New Zealand MPs. The group has provided a forum for New Zealand MPs to engage and act on international population and development issues for 11 years.

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