A number of family planning organisations in Papua New Guinea have come out publicly to voice their disappointment that their recent bids for funding from Australia have been knocked back.
Marie Stopes International, one of the largest providers of contraception and family planning services in PNG, was recently told its 3-year grant from Australia — due to end in April — will only be renewed to half its previous levels. Some experts warn it could affect maternal health and family planning across PNG and make it especially hard for women in remote communities.
Chris Turner is the Regional Director for Marie Stopes International Australia, and says the budget loss will impact services in PNG. "Last year we delivered about 64,000 family planning services," Mr Turner told Pacific Beat. "So we would probably be looking at those reducing by up to half next year." There are some concerns the Government's approach to foreign aid funding has been inconsistent.
PNG reproductive health expert Catherine Fokes says the uncertainty of aid funding is affecting women on the ground. "A community can be concerned around 'Is this organization or service going to stay, or is it not,'" Ms Fokes told Pacific Beat. The Australian government is currently seeking feedback on its planned overhaul of the aid sector — the first of its kind in almost 7 years.
Ms Fokes says it's an ideal time for the government to reconsider how it funds health services in the region. "It's an opportune time to really think about what it means for the lives of women and families when funding for services such as sexual reproductive health, family planning, are no longer being made available," Ms Fokes said. Pacific Beat has requested a response from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs.
Duration: 4min 18sec Broadcast: Fri 14 Feb 2020, 7:00am