Save Papua: A Program of Safety of Childbirth in West Papua

Improving Safety of childbirth in West Papua

When talking about the maternal and infant mortality rate, West Papua is still one of the regions in Indonesia that has the highest rating. This is because there are still many remote areas here. This is the reason why health workers launched a program to ensure the safety of childbirth in West Papua.

In order to know how you must know in advance the causes of high maternal and infant mortality in remote areas of West Papua. Then, you have to get to know the “Save Papua” program as well to know how health workers deal with the issue. Here is the explanation!

Why The Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates in West Papua’s Remote Areas are High

The Importance of Safety of childbirth in West Papua

Basically, almost everyone already knows that West Papua is situated on Papua Island, the easternmost island in the territory of the NKRI. The natural conditions in this region are still very raw and not much touched by humans. There is still a lot of wilderness, meaning many remote areas exist. 

One of the most worrying problems in West Papua’s remote areas is the high mortality rate of mothers and children. According to the latest data, UNICEF’s representative noted that maternal and infant mortality in  Papua is still the highest in Indonesia. It is around 38.17 per 1,000 live births in 2022 [1]

Here are the reasons why!

1. The Lack of Professional Health Workers in The Areas

The first reason why maternal and infant mortality are high is because of the lack of health workers in West Papua’s remote areas. This makes it difficult for the local community to get medical help. Only traditional birth attendants will help them give birth. Sometimes, they also give birth alone.

In the latest data, only 82,5% of mothers receive assistance from health workers when they give birth, below the national average of 94.17%. According to the National Statistics Agency, West Papua is the fourth province with the highest unassisted birth rate in Indonesia. [2]

However, the lack of professional help certainly increases the risk of dying during childbirth. This is because the risk of bleeding and infection will be even greater. Not only is the baby’s life threatened, but the mother’s life as well.

2. The Difficulty of Terrain and Access to The Area

Aside from that, the difficulty of terrain and access to the remote areas is also the reason why maternal and infant mortality is high in West Papua. This was experienced by two midwives that work in West Papua’s remote area. 

Due to the difficulty of access, they once helped a mother give birth in the middle of the wilderness. At that time, the two midwives rushed to the mother’s house. However, because the location was very far away, they finally gave birth in the middle of the forest.

3. The Right Way to Give Birth Is Collide with the Customs and Cultures of Tribal Communities

Then, the high mortality rate during childbirth also comes from the customs and cultures of tribal communities. Some customs and cultures of giving birth in West Papua collide with the right way to give birth. For example, the blood taboo tradition still became a belief in some tribes in Papua.

In this tradition, a mother who is about to give birth will be exiled to a wooden hut far away from her family. The reason is that postpartum blood from mothers who give birth is considered taboo and brings bad luck to the family. So, they will struggle to give birth alone there. [3]

This will certainly increase the risk of death for the mother and baby, whether due to bleeding or infection.

“Although preserving a culture is great, this kind of culture needs to be removed from the community. So, we can save more mothers and babies.”

Save Papua: A Program to Save The Mothers and The Babies by Reducing The Mortality Rates

Program for the Safety of childbirth in West Papua

In order to ensure the safety of childbirth in West Papua, the health department launched a “Save Papua.” It is a program to decrease the mortality rate. This allows a mother to give birth for free. This program made the services for mothers increase by 85% and infant mortality decrease by 25%. [4]