More than 100 people celebrated the launch of HMHB including Australian and Papua New Guinean dignitaries, research staff (in blue shirts), staff, partners and supporters.
After two years in the making, Burnet Institute’s flagship research program, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) was officially launched at a gala event in Kokopo, East New Britain.
Staff, partners and supporters were among the packed audience which included Australian and Papua New Guinean dignitaries: Papua New Guinea Minister for Health, Education, Research, Science and Technology and Member for Gazelle, the Hon Malakai Tabar MP; Papua New Guinea Secretary for Health Mr Pascoe Kase; East New Britain Deputy Provincial Administrator, Mr Edward Lamur; Director Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Professor Peter Siba; Counsellor, Health and HIV, Australian High Commission, Ms Christine Sturrock and Patron Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, Dame Carol Kidu DBE.
Image: Official toast to launch the HMHB program by the Hon Malakai Tabar MP (left) and Burnet’s Professor Brendan Crabb AC, with Patron of HMHB Dame Carol Kidu DBE and Professor Peter Siba.
Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said the launch of HMHB in Kokopo was a very special day for Burnet because it signified the importance of the landmark program in addressing major health issues through research.
“The outcome of the research will be solid evidence that sheds light on the major barriers to better health for mothers and babies in the Province and throughout PNG. This evidence is for health authorities to use to make better-informed decisions, to provide more effective and efficient healthcare,” he said.
“It is my view that in health policy in PNG, there really will be a before, and after, HMHB.”
Image: The Hon Malakai Tabar MP
Papua New Guinea Minister for Health, Education, Research, Science and Technology and Member for Gazelle, The Hon Malakai Tabar MP officially launched the five-year, AUD $10million HMHB program.
Mr Tabar paid tribute to Burnet’s innovative HMHB research initiative, a first for East New Britain, a first for Papua New Guinea.
“Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies will translate significant benefits for maternal and child health and for communities across our nation. This is a landmark program for PNG and the outcome of the research will identify the cost of effective health interventions and help us identify country-wide strategies,” he said.
“More than 5,000 babies don’t make it to their first month of life and 1,500 mothers die each year. This government is committed to addressing and solving this.”
Image: Mr Pascoe Kase
Papua New Guinea Secretary for Health Mr Pascoe Kase said the priority for the PNG government was a national research agenda.
“Maternal and child health is a key priority for the government. A lot of our children still die and this requires an approach that needs research. We need to find new and better ways to save lives,” Mr Kase said.
“We cannot do this on our own. We commend Burnet’s HMHB program as best practice with local and international expertise for best outcomes. HMHB is an opportunity for new interventions and practices, improved facilities and improving staff capacity.”
Image: Mr Edward Lamur
East New Britain Deputy Provincial Administrator, Mr Edward Lamur said with a population of more than 300,000 people and the very high rates of maternal and child deaths, a program like HMHB was needed.
“Back in 2007, we started a partnership with Burnet through sexual and reproductive health. With HMHB we are confident we can make progress going forward. Capacity building is something we look forward to working on with Burnet and outcomes of their research,” Mr Lamur said.
Image: Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Dame Carol Kidu DBE and Professor Peter Siba
Director Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Professor Peter Siba said HMHB was an important program with Burnet’s expertise in clinical, social and laboratory research.
“We are happy to partner Burnet to reduce child and maternal deaths. Partnerships are the way forward to enable the IMR and government through nation building to improve health,” he said.
Representing the Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Ms Christine Sturrock said the Australian Government was committed to working across all indicators to ensure health system strengthening in the country.
“The high burden and complications leading to the loss of women and children is unacceptable to all of us. We want all women to have the opportunities that are taken for granted in Australia,” Ms Sturrock said.
“Burnet has a productive partnership approach that will find the real reasons for the poor maternal outcomes. Often simple interventions can make a difference.”
Professor Crabb also said HMHB was special because it was a partnership. He acknowledged the many partners in Papua New Guinea who have assisted in the program to start its research studies this year.
These include: the Papua New Guinea Government, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea Department of Health, Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea, local participating clinical services – St Mary’s Hospital, Nonga General Hospital, Napapar Health Centre, Paparatava Health Centre, Keravat Rural Hospital – local Burnet staff and researchers, Australian patrons and donors, and Burnet researchers and program staff.
Together they have made HMHB possible.