The Australian government will provide $85 million in funds for use in preventing childbirth deaths in Pacific island countries in the next four years.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith made the pledge on behalf of Canberra at the conclusion of the four-day Pacific Islands Forum in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Thursday.
Australia's support will enable Pacific health training institutions to increase the number of doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers in the region, Skynews.com.au quoted a statement from Smith's office sa saying.
Smith added that Australia will also fund improvements in the delivery of health services across the Pacific. These include better national health planning and procurement of medicines and medical supplies.
The $85 million pledge, which will be delivered as part of Australia's contribution to the Millennium Development Goals, aims to address the high incidence of childbirth deaths in the Pacific region.
In Papua New Guinea alone, there are 733 deaths per 100,000 births. In Kiribati, the rate is 284 deaths per 100,000 births. In Solomon Islands, 142 babies die for every 100,000 who are born.