Australia will make a $66 million commitment to reducing child and maternal deaths in Papua New Guinea by providing up to 1,400 nursing and midwifery scholarships to reduce child and mortality death rates.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr made the announcement at Mt Hagen Hospital in the PNG Highlands, accompanied by PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato and Western Highlands Governor Paias Wingti.
Senator Carr said the scholarships at local medical and nursing schools would deliver 450 community health workers, 450 nurses and 500 midwives by 2015.
Around one in 15 PNG children will die before the age of five, many following complications arising from poor maternal health care.
"All women have a basic right to good maternal health," Senator Carr said.
"The midwives and nurses trained through these scholarships will supervise around 8000 births a year, potentially saving hundreds of lives.
"I'm proud that Australia can make this commitment to basic medical care for women and children, in partnership with the PNG government and Prime Minister Peter O'Neill."
The scholarships would be delivered between 2012 and 2015 as part of the Australian Regional Development Scholarships program. Preference for places would be given to young women from rural areas who are already committed to health worker training.
Funds would support additional infrastructure and teaching capacity at local training centres. Australia would also deliver medical supplies for 3,300 hospitals, health centres and aid posts in rural PNG.
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