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We are building a Maternity Waiting Home (MWH) in Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highland Province (EHP). The home will increase the safety of mother and child in high-risk pregnancies for women from Paiga and Gimi.

Why are we building the MWH?

Okapa District in PNG’s EHP has a very low rate of facility deliveries. At only 8% it is one of the worst-performing districts in PNG. Nineteen maternal and 120 neonatal deaths occurred in 2017. These shocking deaths are due to a combination of off-road mountain community remoteness, low literacy and health knowledge, poverty, and a chronic lack of primary health services.

Women from the Paiga and Gimi communities told us they choose to have home births because of the distance and danger of travel to the nearest birth facility. They also told us they can’t afford the cost of transport or accommodation in Goroka.

What will the MWH do?

The MWH will house 10 mothers, partners/family members and their newborn babies at a time near Goroka Hospital, making it easy for them to access midwifery care in labour, emergency maternal and newborn care if needed, and ante-natal and post-natal services, such as treatment of pregnancy complications, birth registration, mother and baby immunisations and family planning.

The MWH will transport mothers and newborns safely and regularly between Okapa District and Goroka at no cost.

A Safe Motherhood Program will engage community participation in regular antenatal care, facility births and mother & child health care.

Family education for the women, their partners and their communities will be part of the MWH service.

Increasing facility births and educating communities will also improve access to childhood immunisations and health care seeking behaviours.

Birth-related injuries, e.g. cerebral palsy, will also be reduced.

Through these strategies, the “3 Delays” leading to maternal and neonatal death (1. Deciding to seek health care, 2. Accessing health care, and 3. Quality health care provision) will be broken down.