Help deliver essential newborn care

The children of Papua New Guinea (PNG) face multiple challenges, including a fragile health system and access to timely and quality medical care. 

Infant mortality rates in PNG are among the worst in the world, with more than 6,000 children passing away each year before their first month of life, mostly from conditions that are easily prevented with basic medical care.  

Health facilities, particularly those servicing vulnerable communities, are under-resourced. Staff often lack training in maternal health and newborn care, and facilities are not equipped to handle emergency care. In rural and remote communities, mothers walk hours, even while in labour, to reach medical help.    

Alongside our partners, UNICEF is working with health providers and communities to improve early essential newborn care in provinces where the need is greatest. This support includes training community health volunteers in maternal and newborn health, ensuring health facilities have the equipment they need to provide basic obstetric and emergency care, educating expecting families on the importance of medical care for mothers and babies, and sourcing and distributing essential medicines and vaccines for young children.

1 in 43

Babies in Papua New Guinea die within the first month of life.

1 in 13

children pass away each year in Papua New Guinea from preventable diseases.


A helping hand when mothers need it most

Edith, a healthcare worker helps mothers when in labour© UNICEF Australia/Ziaziaris

In the middle of the night, Edith (pictured above) woke up to the news that a local woman had gone into labour. Without a moment’s thought, she packed her bags and called a bus to drive her and the expectant mother, Josephine*, to the nearest health facility. She knew it would take at least an hour along a rocky, dirt road.  

But when they reached the base of the nearby mountain range, a bridge had collapsed, and they were forced to trek through the dark, slippery mountain range on foot. “We walked for at least an hour from the bridge,” Edith, 35, says. “It was cold, and it was very dark.” 

Thankfully the two women reached the health facility in time, and Josephine delivered a healthy baby girl.  

With little access to ambulances or healthcare centres with trained staff and equipment, PNG remains one of the deadliest places in the world for mothers to give birth. The lack of accessible health care is why so many mothers choose to stay home to give birth, sometimes alone and with no trained help.  

Edith is one of the 37 village health volunteers who took part in a two-week training course - supported by the Australian Government (through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program) - where she learnt how to care for newborns and mothers, how to recognise danger signs in pregnancy, and how to resuscitate a newborn.  

Now, Edith is working to bridge the gap between her village and the local health care centre by ensuring expectant mothers in her village visit the nearest health clinic to access prenatal care, deliver their child safely and attend postnatal check-ups. The village health volunteers initiative has significantly increased the number of mothers travelling to health centres for delivery and check-ups. 

*Name has been changed to protect the mother's privacy.  

Help deliver essential newborn care

Donate today to help us deliver essential newborn care to ensure the children of Papua New Guinea not only survive but thrive.


newborns received a package of early essential newborn care between 2018 to 2022.


parents were supported to practice kangaroo care to keep their babies healthy and warm between 2018 to 2022.

A father holds his newborn baby against his chest.
Ikia is one of many dads in Papua New Guinea that UNICEF is supporting through Kangaroo care programs, which teaches parents how to keep their babies warm and healthy, by holding their newborn baby against their bare skin.
© UNICEF/UN0260051/Mepham

How will my donation help children in Papua New Guinea? 

Because UNICEF is 100 per cent donor funded – with some voluntary contributions from governments – our ability to provide long-term development programs like essential newborn care programs to vulnerable communities, depends on the generosity and commitment of donors, like you. We will combine your donation with funding from the Australian Government’s ANCP to reach even more children in need. 

  • $73 can provide vaccines and immunisation services for 20 young children 
  • $137 can support village health volunteers like Edith (above) to provide health information and services to 10 children and their parents 
  • $251 can contribute to the provision of essential equipment for the care of newborn babies in rural health centres

    How do we use each dollar donated?

  • 82¢
    last year, 82 cents went directly to program expenditure and community education, including long-term development and emergency response work.
  • 12¢
    last year, 12 cents covered the essential costs of raising public awareness and fundraising to generate more support for UNICEF’s work.
  • 6¢
    last year, 6 cents were spent on UNICEF Australia’s accountability and administration.

Help deliver essential newborn care

Donate today to help us deliver essential newborn care to ensure the children of Papua New Guinea not only survive but thrive.