The trail of blood running down the concrete path to the maternity wing of Papua New Guinea’s main referral and teaching hospital tells the story. Eloquent splashes of red, falling centimetres apart at first, becoming a continuous stream by the time she reaches the admission doors.
It’s easy to imagine the urgent response that would await a pregnant, haemorrhaging woman arriving in any Australian hospital. Harder to envisage the reality greeting this unknown woman, just a couple of hours’ flight away, in PNG.
Pushing through the doors of the Port Moresby General Hospital she takes her chances in the overcrowded, understaffed, dilapidated women’s wing. But the 12,000 pregnant women who find their way here each year are among the luckiest in the country.
The floors are crowded with women waiting to have their babies, or cradling the ones they have just delivered, because there are not enough beds. In the delivery room, flimsy curtains afford no privacy or dignity. The toilet is a bucket by the bed. The vinyl mattresses where they labour are worn through, soiled foam bursting through the cracks.
But they at least have access to doctors and midwives—albeit in chronically short supply—and lifesaving drugs, though they can run short too. Many more of their sisters labour unaided at home..
”Those 120,000 are taking their chances in a dirty house, on a dirt floor, with no skilled attendants, no equipment, no capacity to get somewhere if something bad happens. And they die…’
Click here to read the rest of this article. The number of women dying during childbirth in PNG has doubled in the last decade. In some parts of the country, 1 in 7 women will die while giving birth.
Fortunately, there is something we can do.