The Jakarta Post
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has said that Papua continues to lag behind in maternal health compared to other areas across Indonesia despite significant improvements in the country's health outcomes over the years.
In Papua, 16 percent of women begin childbearing between the ages of 15 ' 19, or twice as high as the national figure.
'Health providers in Papua are not trained to deal with adolescent reproductive health issues, and hospitals and community health centers are generally unable to provide youth-friendly health services,' says UNFPA Indonesia.
On Wednesday, to improve maternal health care delivery, UNFPA launched a pilot initiative entitled Men Care Papua, which aims to engage men and boys in Papua on sexual and reproductive health issues and on the prevention of gender-based violence in Jayapura.
UNFPA says family planning is also not common practice in Papua, with low use of any modern methods of contraception among married couples. The contraceptive prevalence rate in Papua is only 24.5 percent, which is quite low compared to the national coverage of 61 percent.
The province also suffers from a generalized HIV epidemic, with a prevalence rate of 2.4 percent among 15-49 years old. 'This is triggered mainly by unsafe sexual behavior,' says UNFPA.
Furthermore, UNFPA says that violence against women and children in Papua is also high. According to the National Socio Economic Survey on Violence against Women and Children in 2006, Papua had the highest prevalence of violence against women and children in Indonesia.
'It is statistics like these, indicating pervasive gender inequality, which led to Papua being selected as the pilot location for the new male engagement initiative,' UNFPA Indonesia representative Jose Ferraris said during the launch of the initiative.
'A second reason was because the government and civil society organizations in Papua are truly committed to working to address these challenges,' he went on.
During the launch, Rutgers World Population Fund (WPF) director Monique Soesman and Men Care Papua program manager Siska Noya shared success stories and progress the program had achieved in East Java, Jakarta, Lampung, and Yogyakarta. (ebf)(+++)
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