Emalus Campus

Information About



Abortion Policies: a review of policies and legislation for the South Pacific

(as of 2000)

Compiled by Peter Murgatroyd, Emalus Campus Librarian, University of the South Pacific using information from the website of the United Nations (http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/profiles.htm).

Source Data: Population Policy Data Bank maintained by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.

 


Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are a self-governing country in free association with New Zealand.  Abortion is governed by the Crimes Act 1969, which is based on New Zealand and, ultimately, British common law.  Under the Act, anyone who unlawfully and intentionally procures or attempts to procure a miscarriage by drug or instrument is liable to up to seven years’ imprisonment.  If any other means is used unlawfully and intentionally to procure or attempt to procure the miscarriage the penalty is up to five years’ imprisonment.  A woman who unlawfully and intentionally procures or attempts to procure her own miscarriage, is liable to up to three years’ imprisonment.  The Act, however, allows an abortion to be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman, stipulating that a person is not guilty of a crime if, before or during the birth of any child, he or she causes the death of the child by means employed in good faith for the preservation of the life of the mother.

Most countries whose legal systems are based on the common law of the United Kingdom follow the 1938 English Rex v. Bourne decision in determining whether an abortion performed for health reasons is lawful.  In the Bourne decision, a physician was acquitted of the offence of performing an abortion in the case of a woman who had been raped.  The court ruled that the abortion was lawful because it had been performed to prevent the woman from becoming “a physical and mental wreck”, thus setting a precedent for future abortion cases performed on the grounds of preserving the pregnant woman’s physical and mental health.  It is unclear whether the Bourne decision would be applicable in the Cook Islands.

Although family planning services have been available at health service outlets since the early 1980s, in the context of religious beliefs family planning remains a somewhat controversial issue. The Government is also concerned about possible depopulation of some of the islands resulting from high levels of emigration. Another constraint in the implementation of the family planning programme is the distribution of the country’s 15 islands over wide areas of ocean.

Fiji

Sections 172-174 of the Penal Code of Fiji (cap. 17) prohibit entirely the unlawful performance of abortions.  Section 234 of the Code, however, makes an exception in the case of a threat to the life of the pregnant woman. It states that a person is not criminally responsible for performing in good faith and with reasonable care and skill a surgical operation, upon any person for his benefit, or upon an unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life, if the performance of the operation is reasonable with regard to the patient’s state at the time and to all circumstances of the case.

In addition, in a decision of the Supreme Court of Fiji (Emberson v. Emberson), Criminal Case No. 16 of 1976, the Court further clarified the law by specifying that abortion was permitted when the performing physician had formed an opinion “in good faith” that the abortion was necessary to preserve the pregnant woman’s mental and physical health, “taking into account the social circumstances of the patient”.  Thus, in practice the law is interpreted very liberally. An abortion may be performed on the grounds of foetal deformity, rape or incest as they may be interpreted as producing a risk to the woman’s mental health; it may also be performed in cases of economic duress.

Those performing an illegal abortion are subject to imprisonment for up to 14 years. The same punishment may be applied to someone unlawfully supplying instruments to perform the abortion. A woman attempting unlawfully to induce her own abortion or consenting to its being induced, is subject to imprisonment for up to seven years.

Family planning services, integrated with maternal and child health services, are available free through the national health infrastructure. However, providing family planning services to the widely dispersed land areas of Fiji is sometimes difficult. Services could also be improved by increasing the number of trained personnel, providing transport for outreach services and coordinating activities between the various family planning organizations.

Kiribati        

Under the 1965 Penal Code of Kiribati, the performance of abortions is generally illegal. A person who unlawfully uses any means with intent to procure an abortion of a woman, whether pregnant or not, is subject to ten years’ imprisonment. A pregnant woman who undertakes the same act with respect to her own pregnancy or consents to it is subject to imprisonment for life.

Nonetheless, in two sections, the Code authorizes abortions to be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman. It provides that a person is not criminally responsible for performing in good faith and with reasonable care and skill a surgical operation upon any unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life, if the performance of the operation is reasonable, having regard to the patient’s state at the time and to the circumstances of the case. It also allows the destruction of a child capable of being born alive for the good faith purpose of preserving the life of the mother, with the presumption that a child is capable of being born alive if the pregnancy has lasted at least 28 weeks.

The Government of Kiribati seeks to reduce fertility in order to reduce the rate of population growth and to improve maternal and child health and family well‑being. Family planning is not part of any specific Government policy, although services are available as an integral part of the Government’s family health programme. The concept of family planning has been widely accepted, however, and Kiribati claims the highest number of vasectomy cases among the Pacific island nations. The provision of services has been hindered, however, by the fact that the country’s islands are widely dispersed, making transportation and communication with the outer islands difficult.

The Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA), an affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, was established in 1994 and only began activities in the area of sexual and reproductive health in 1997. Its objectives are to promote and provide family life education and reproductive health services in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Planning.

Marshall Islands

Before independence, the Marshall Islands were part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.  Although this Territory was nominally under the control of the United Nations, its administration, legislation, and adjudication were the responsibility of the United States of America.  As such, the legal system of the Territory was based on the Code of the Trust Territory imposed by the United States after World War II and on the Code’s development through the court decisions interpreting the common law as generally understood and applied in the United States.

The primary historical source of abortion law in the Marshall Islands was the section of the Trust Territory Code dealing with abortion. It provided that every person who unlawfully caused the miscarriage or premature delivery of a woman, with intent to do so, was guilty of the crime of abortion.  Although it prohibited all abortions, general criminal law principles of necessity would have allowed an abortion to be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman.

In 1971, however, the Appellate Division of the High Court of the Trust Territory ruled that these abortion provisions were invalid because they were so vague and indefinite as to constitute a denial of due process of law. The Court objected to the fact that the provisions did not set forth any circumstances under which abortions were legal.  No replacement abortion provision was ever enacted and it may be that since Roe v. Wade, which established the right of a woman to obtain an abortion in the first two trimesters of pregnancy, was issued by the United States Supreme Court only two years later, that none was thought necessary:  Trust Territory courts were required to follow United States court decisions, including Roe v. Wade.

The outcome in the above 1971 decision would have dictated that before independence no abortion law was in effect in the Marshall Islands and that the holding of Roe v. Wade was applicable.  Independence, however, changed this situation in three ways.  First, it authorized the country to enact its own legislation.  Second, it allowed courts to apply the common law of jurisdictions other than the United States, including common law developed locally. Third, it gave a prominent place to local customary law in court deliberations. Consequently, it is somewhat unclear what the law on abortion is at this date.

Under the Marshall Islands Revised Code, the successor to the Code of  the Trust Territory, there is no mention of abortion; the abortion provisions were evidently removed when the Trust Territory Code was adapted at independence. The criminal provisions of the Code, however, are not the exclusive source of criminal law in the country and specific acts can be made a crime by generally respected native custom. Whether abortion is such a crime is not clear and there are no court decisions dealing with the issue.  Further confusing matters are reports that abortion is available to save the life of the pregnant woman and to preserve her physical or mental health. Clarification of the exact status of abortion law will in all probability only come with further development of the country’s young legal system.

The same reports that indicate that an abortion can be legally performed to save the life of a pregnant woman or to preserve her physical or mental health also indicate that, prior to the abortion, the woman must receive counselling and sign a form indicating that she will utilize family planning services following the abortion. Abortions are reportedly performed by a limited number of physicians, as a number of physicians are reluctant to perform the procedure.

The country has a tradition of concern for the economic limitations of a fragile atoll environment and the need to control population growth.  In 1982, a Leadership Seminar on Population Education helped raise awareness of the major population problems facing the Marshall Islands. The principal problems identified were rapid population growth, a highly skewed age structure, with over 50 per cent of the population under age 15, poor health conditions of mothers and children, and high rates of adolescent fertility. The Government subsequently established a Task Force on Population Awareness and in 1990 it approved a national population policy to address the country’s major population problems.

Micronesia (Federated States of)

The Federated States of Micronesia, formerly known as the Caroline Islands, has passed through several colonial administrations. Administered as a German colony beginning in 1899, the Caroline Islands came under Japanese administration for 30 years, between 1914 and 1945, and subsequently under that of the United States of America as a United Nations Trusteeship until 1990.  As such, the legal system of the Trust Territory  of the Pacific Islands was based on the Code of the Trust Territory imposed by the United States after World War II and on the Code’s development through the court decisions interpreting the common law as generally understood and applied in the United States.

The primary historical source of abortion law in the Federated States of Micronesia was the section of the Trust Territory Code dealing with abortion. It provided that every person who unlawfully caused the miscarriage or premature delivery of a woman, with intent to do so, was guilty of the crime of abortion.  Although it prohibited all abortions, general criminal law principles of necessity would have allowed an abortion to be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman.

In 1971, however, the Appellate Division of the High Court of the Trust Territory ruled that these abortion provisions were invalid because they were so vague and indefinite as to constitute a denial of due process of law. The Court objected to the fact that the provisions did not set forth any circumstances under which abortions were legal.  No replacement abortion provision was ever enacted, and it may be that since Roe v. Wade, which established the right of a woman to obtain an abortion in the first two trimesters of pregnancy, was issued by the United States Supreme Court only two years later, that none was thought necessary: Trust Territory courts were required to follow United States court decisions, including Roe v. Wade.

The outcome in the above 1971 decision would have dictated that before independence there was no abortion law in effect in the Federated States of Micronesia and that the holding of Roe v. Wade was applicable. Independence, however, changed this situation in three ways.  First, it authorized the country to enact its own legislation.  Second, it allowed courts to apply the common law of jurisdictions other than the United States, including common law developed locally. Third, it gave a prominent place to local customary law in court deliberations. Consequently, it is somewhat unclear what the law on abortion is at this date.

It may be that abortion is governed by the criminal law provisions of the codes of the four states making up the Federated States of Micronesia. However, as of this date the text of the codes is not available, and thus it is not known whether they contain any abortion provisions.  Moreover, the criminal law provisions of the codes are not the exclusive source of criminal law in the country and specific acts can be made a crime by generally respected native custom.  Whether abortion is such a crime is not clear and there are no court decisions dealing with the issue. Clarification of the exact status of abortion law will in all probability only come with further development of the country’s young legal system.

Traditional methods of abortion, such as the use of local herbs, the insertion of foreign bodies into the womb, and ritual massages and bathing, are common in the Pacific region. However, it is difficult to quantify the incidence of such practices, as cases are reported only when complications have arisen and hospitalization is required.

The population policy of the Federated States of Micronesia is intended to reduce fertility by ensuring comprehensive family planning services even in remote areas, by increasing the number of acceptors in a culturally acceptable manner and by intensifying educational programmes. The high population growth rate is due to a combination of high fertility and low mortality. Family planning programmes have had relatively little impact because they have encountered strong resistance, especially among the native population.  As a rule, couples do not consider using family planning because of a lack of knowledge and because it is considered to be in contradiction with traditional beliefs.  Attitudes towards family planning in the Pacific islands present some very specific features. On the one hand, the Christian religion is dominant and has influenced attitudes towards abortion and family planning. On the other hand, men are frequently opposed to contraception. Sexual activity was traditionally under severe social control in the Pacific island cultures, and pregnancy was the main means of detecting socially unacceptable behaviour, such as infidelity or interruption of post-partum abstinence.

Nauru

The abortion law of Nauru, a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean, is based on the abortion law of neighbouring Queensland, Australia. Under the Criminal Code Act of 1899 (sections 224-226), the performance of abortions is generally illegal:  a person who performs an abortion on another is subject to fourteen years’ imprisonment with hard labour and a woman performing her own abortion or consenting to its performance is subject to seven years’ imprisonment with hard labour.  Nonetheless, under section 282 of the Code, the performance of an abortion is allowed to preserve the mother’s life.  In addition, a 1986 Queensland court decision adopted the reasoning of the English court decision Rex. v. Bourne and established the precedent that the preservation of a pregnant woman’s life encompassed preservation of her health. Whether this court decision has been followed in neighbouring Nauru is unclear.

Nauru does not have an official family planning programme. However, as a welfare State, Nauru provides free health care to all its citizens, as well as support for family planning services.  As there are no pharmacies on the island, contraceptives are available only by prescription in government hospitals and clinics.

Niue                                          

*The abortion law of Niue is based on the abortion law of New Zealand before it was liberalized in 1977-1978.  Under the law, abortions can be performed only to save the life of the woman. It is probable that New Zealand case law, which, before the liberalization of New Zealand’s abortion law, followed the Rex v. Bourne decision and allowed abortion to be performed on physical and mental health grounds, is applicable in Niue.

Niue is a self-governing nation of 2,500 people in free association with its former colonial ruler New Zealand. The status of the law on abortion in Niue is not entirely clear. The country’s criminal law is contained in Part V of the Niue Act 1966, which is the principal New Zealand statute that established the substantive rules of law for Niue. This criminal law is based on that of the Cook Islands Act 1915, which itself is related to the Criminal Code of New Zealand.  Under the Niue Act of 1966, the act of procuring the miscarriage of a woman or girl and the act of a woman or girl procuring her own miscarriage are both prohibited if done unlawfully. The penalty in the first case is up to two years’ imprisonment and in the second, up to one year’s imprisonment. Anyone who unlawfully supplies or procures the means of miscarriage knowing that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure a miscarriage is subject to up to two years’ imprisonment.

The law sets forth no express exceptions to a general prohibition on the performance of abortions.  However, as is the case with many laws that derive from the English Offences against the Person Act of 1861, the use in the law of the word “unlawfully” implies that some abortions are, in fact lawful.  Although there has been no such court decision in the country interpreting the scope of abortions considered not unlawful, the Niue Act 1966 offers some guidance in this area.  In a section labeled “Defences,” it provides that all rules and principles of the common law which render any circumstance a justification or excuse for any act or omission or a defence to any charge shall remain in force.  This language implies that a defence of necessity would most likely be allowed in the case of an abortion performed to save the life of a pregnant woman. The question remaining is whether a court would allow the defence sanctioned by the Rex v. Bourne decision in cases of  a threat to physical or mental health.  Given that Niue was under the colonial rule of New Zealand and is still linked to that country in a state of free association, it seems likely, but by no means certain, that such a defence would be allowed. This is particularly likely since a New Zealand court gave application to the holding of Rex v. Bourne  in New Zealand (Rex. v. Woolnough, 1977) before the enactment of New Zealand’s liberalized law in 1977-1978.

Samoa

The performance of abortions in Samoa is regulated by the Crimes Ordinance of 1961, as amended by the Crimes Amendment Act of 1969.  Under the Ordinance, abortion is generally illegal.  Anyone who unlawfully uses any means on a woman, whether she is pregnant or not, with intent to procure her miscarriage is subject to up to seven years’ imprisonment. A woman who undertakes the same act is subject to the same penalty.

Nonetheless, Article 73 of the Act provides that a person who before or during the birth of any child causes its death by means employed in good faith for the preservation of the life of the mother is not guilty of any crime.

In addition, Samoa, like many Commonwealth countries, whose legal systems are based on the English common law, follows the holding of the 1938 English Rex v. Bourne decision in determining whether an abortion performed for health reasons is lawful.  In the Bourne decision, a physician was acquitted of the offence of performing an abortion in the case of a woman who had been raped. The court ruled that the abortion was lawful because it had been performed to prevent the woman from becoming “a physical and mental wreck”, thus setting a precedent for future abortion cases performed on the grounds of preserving the pregnant woman’s physical and mental health.

Induced abortion appears socially acceptable in Samoa and has reportedly been performed routinely in cases of rape or incest.  Findings from the Western Samoa Family Planning Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Survey (KAP) in 1971 show that induced abortion, although illegal, was considered permissible by 34 per cent of unmarried women, by 28 per cent of married women and by 15 per cent of husbands.

There are no reliable estimates on the frequency of induced abortion in Samoa.  Since the early 1970s, the Government of Samoa has made efforts to control the high natural growth rate of its population.  In 1971, the Government created the Family Welfare Programme incorporating family planning as an integral part of maternal and child health (MCH) services. High priority has been given to improving maternal and child health, largely through child spacing.  Other non-governmental organizations, such as the Samoan Family Health Association, have been active in strengthening and developing MCH care and family planning services, in collaboration with the government programme. Samoa has successfully extended basic health services to all of its population and since the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994, has focused increasingly on maternal and child health care as well as family planning.

Solomon Islands

Abortion in the Solomon Islands is governed by the Penal Code of 1963 (Chapter 26 of the 1996 Revised Laws of the Solomon Islands), which makes the performance of abortions generally illegal. Under the Code, any person who unlawfully uses any means with the intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether pregnant or not, is subject to life imprisonment.  A pregnant woman who  undertakes the same act or consents to it is subject to the same penalty.

Nonetheless, the Code allows an abortion to be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman. It provides that a person is not criminally responsible for performing in good faith and with reasonable care and skill a surgical operation upon an unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life, if the performance of the operation is reasonable, having regard to the patient’s state at the time and to all the circumstances of the case.

Two physicians must reportedly approve an abortion in order for it to be performed.  In addition, written consent of the patient’s spouse or next of kin is required before any operation can be performed.  Parental consent is required if the girl is a minor. There is no time limit for an abortion to be performed except that imposed by medical practice, which is usually the first trimester of pregnancy, in order to avoid serious medical risk to the mother. Abortion is free of charge when performed at a government hospital.

Two legal systems, customary and general law, exist side by side in the Solomon Islands. According to custom, a birth is a gift from God and is generally accepted, as such even if not desired.  In addition, among the native population, the stigma attached to out-of-wedlock pregnancies is less than in many other cultures, and adoption is a common solution for unplanned births.  Demand for abortion is therefore relatively low.  On the other hand, it has been recognized that frequent pregnancies with short birth intervals and subsequent complications are a major cause of maternal morbidity and mortality.  Fertility levels in the Solomon Islands remain high, with the total fertility rate estimated at 4.9 births per woman for the period 1995-2000.

Since the 1970s, the Government has sought to reduce the rate of population growth (which was estimated at 3.1 per cent for the period 1995-2000), mainly through family planning. The family planning programme, which is directed both to improving the health of mothers and children and to reducing population growth, has achieved significant progress. A national population policy was approved by the Government in 1987 and  reformulated after the International Conference on Population and Development.  In recent years, the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association has successfully introduced community-based contraceptive distribution programmes in a few areas on a pilot basis. Although there is growing acceptance of family planning among community and traditional leaders, some religious leaders and groups still remain opposed to it. As a result, the Government is developing information programmes to increase awareness of the negative effects of rapid population growth and closely spaced pregnancies.

Tonga

Sections 103-105 of the Criminal Offences Act regulate abortion in Tonga.  Under these sections, there are no exceptions to a prohibition against the performance of all abortions.  A person who with intent to procure a miscarriage administers any drug or noxious thing or unlawfully uses any means is subject to up to seven years’ imprisonment.  A woman who undertakes the same act or allows it to be undertaken with respect to her with intent to cause her own miscarriage is subject to up to three years’ imprisonment.  Nonetheless, under general criminal law principles of necessity, an abortion can be legally performed to save the life of a pregnant woman.

Since the 1960s, the Government has strongly supported maternal and child health care and family planning. Two voluntary organizations, the Tonga Family Planning Association and the Catholic Family Planning Centre, have been offering family planning services throughout most of the country.  By the mid-1980s, about 28 per cent of women of reproductive age practised family planning.  By the late 1990s, the International Planned Parenthood Federation reported that an estimated 70 per cent of the population had some knowledge of family planning.

Tonga comprises 36 inhabited islands; remoteness thus presents a continuing barrier to the delivery of reproductive health care services, including family planning.  The low rate of contraceptive usage is also attributed to enduring traditional, cultural and religious beliefs. In 1999, the Government expressed its concern that the sustainability of population policies and programmes was threatened by the lack of adequate human and financial resources, particularly in the face of emerging challenges in the areas of adolescent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Tonga has a relatively high total fertility rate, but it has been offset by heavy emigration under the impact of inflation and unemployment, increasingly producing what is thought to be a negative population growth rate. The World Health Organization estimated the annual population growth rate average for the entire 1990-1999 period to be 0.3 per cent.

Tuvalu

Abortion in Tuvalu is governed by the provisions of the Penal Code of 18 October 1865, as amended.  Under the abortion provisions of the Code (sections 150-152), which are based on the English Offences against the Person Act of 1861, any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, unlawfully administers any noxious thing or uses any means is subject to imprisonment for ten years. A pregnant woman who undertakes the same act or consents to its performance is subject to life imprisonment. Any person who unlawfully supplies means to procure an abortion knowing that it is unlawfully intended for that purpose is subject to five years’ imprisonment.

Nonetheless, an abortion may be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman. Section 227 of the Code provides that a person is not criminally responsible for performing in good faith and with reasonable care and skill a surgical operation upon an unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life if the performance of the operation is reasonable having regard to the patient’s state at the time, and to all the circumstances of the case.  In addition, Section 214 of the Code provides that no person shall be guilty of the offence of causing by wilful act a child to die before it has an independent existence from its mother if the act was carried out in good faith for the purpose of preserving the mother’s life.

Little information exists on the legal status and incidence of abortion in Tuvalu.  Although the 1982 Penal Code does not contain a section on abortion, two sections (214 and 215) concern the destruction of the life of a child capable of being born alive, which could be applicable to abortion.  Based on these sections, it appears that no one will be guilty of an offence unless it is proved that the act that caused the child’s death was not done in good faith for the purpose of preserving the mother’s life.

There is a long-standing tradition of family planning in Tuvalu. The Family Planning Association was established in the late 1960s and the Government has made efforts to integrate family planning into its maternal and child health services. Family planning programmes are being carried out throughout the country, with a clinic on the central island of Funafuti and a nurse in each dispensary in the outer islands who is responsible for teaching and encouraging couples to use family planning methods. The Government acknowledges that existing family planning programmes need to be broadened to include single men and women, because the number of births to single mothers has been increasing.  Moreover, family planning education is necessary in order to overcome the continuing lack of awareness with regard to the availability of family planning services. Additional obstacles include the lack of reliable transportation to outer islands and the fact that sterilization can only be done currently at the hospital on Funafuti.  A contraceptive prevalence rate of 30 per cent was reported in 1983. The Government’s 1995-1998 National Development Strategy placed considerable emphasis on family planning, and since 1998 the Ministry of Health has increased its collaboration with women and youth NGOs in the areas of family planning awareness, education, and training.

Vanuatu

Abortion in Vanuatu is governed by the provisions of Section 117 of the Vanuatu Penal Code, Act No. 17 of 7 August 1981.  Under Section 117, the performance of abortions is generally illegal. A woman who intentionally procures her own miscarriage is subject to two years’ imprisonment, as is a person who intentionally procures the miscarriage of a woman. The Code, however, allows an abortion to be performed on health grounds.  Section 117 also provides that it shall be a defence to the charge of having committed the offence of abortion that the miscarriage procured constituted a termination of pregnancy for good medical reasons. The Code does not define what constitutes “good medical reasons”.

Although the Code does not set a specific limit on the period during pregnancy when an abortion may be legally performed for good medical reasons, Section 113 of the Code implies that the period ends at 28 weeks.  Section 113 of the Code, which is entitled “killing unborn child”, provides that no person shall, when a woman is about to be delivered of a child, prevent the child from being born alive. Under English law, from which this section of the Code was derived, the term  “unborn child” was usually applied to unborn children of a minimum of 28 weeks’ gestation. Penalties range from 2 years for an abortion to life imprisonment for killing an unborn child.

Although the Government does not have an overall population policy, family planning has been included in the health policies of Vanuatu since it attained independence in 1980. Currently, health and family planning services are organized at the district level and are free of charge.  The Family Planning Association of Vanuatu assists in the distribution of contraceptives to government centres and mission health centres. These government institutions are the only entities allowed to distribute contraceptives, with the exception of condoms, to the general population. Despite these efforts, however, the contraceptive prevalence rate is believed to be relatively low in Vanuatu.  Some of the obstacles to achieving greater acceptance of family planning in Vanuatu include a cultural preference for large families, a reluctance to discuss family planning, and service delivery problems to the 14 inhabited islands.

By 1990, however, a resurgence of interest in family planning, combined with a number of health concerns, such as poor maternal health, led to the establishment of the Family Health Project. One of the objectives of the project is the improvement of family planning services by enhancing the quality of care; offering a wider range of family planning methods, including long-acting contraceptives; and facilitating access to family planning services, particularly in rural areas.

Over the period 1970-2000, the total fertility rate declined from 6.5 children per woman to 4.3, but remains high. The current population growth rate also remains high at 2.4 per cent.


Home l USP Staff Directory l Maps l Disclaimer & Copyright l Contact Us l Feedback l 
© Copyright 2004 - 2017. All Rights Reserved.
Page last updated: Wednesday, 19 July, 2017
USP Emalus Campus
PMB 9072
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Phone: +678 22748 Fax +678 22633