PNGAA Library

PNG—A dangerous place for women? Don Hook

Papua New Guinea is said to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for women.

The Sydney based Australian Doctors International (ADI) reports domestic violence is rife and the country has a shockingly poor maternal health situation, resulting in large numbers of preventable deaths every year. According to ADI, an estimated two thirds of PNG women experience sexual and domestic violence, and at least one third of women are raped.

In addition to shocking domestic violence, unbelievably, a woman in PNG is 75 times more likely to die in childbirth than she is in Australia.

PNG’s maternal mortality rate—at 230 deaths for every 100,000 live births—is one of the highest in the world. Fewer than half of all pregnant women will have a midwife or doctor by their side when they give birth and, as a result, many women die from unnecessary bleeding and preventable birth complications.

ADI president Dr Peter Macdonald says ADI started sending volunteer doctors to New Ireland Province in 2011. Since then they've treated almost 11,000 people, mainly women and children, who would otherwise have had no access to a doctor or a hospital.

He said each month ADI’s remote health patrol teams set out from the provincial capital Kavieng, often by sea in small boats, to treat patients and provide training for local health workers in isolated areas. The patrol teams include maternal and child nurses, an HIV nurse, physiotherapist, dentists, an eye nurse and an ADI doctor.

Last year the patrols treated more than 700 women across New Ireland's 27 remote health centres and performed more than 1,300 pap smears and female HIV tests.

Over the coming year we hope to see more than 2,000 women on our patrols - but we won't be able to do this without attracting greater public funding.

Australian Doctors International, PO Box 954, Manly, NSW 1655
02 9976 0112