The Murrumbidgee region has a higher rate of infant and child mortality than the national average.
Statistics show the national rate is 4.1 per 1000 children, but in Murrumbidgee it is 4.6 per cent.
Murrumbidgee also has higher rates of women smoking during pregnancy - 17.7 per cent as opposed to the national average of 11 per cent - and a significantly lower proportion of women having at least one antenatal visit during the first trimester of their pregnancy. The local rate is 55 per cent, compared to a state average of 62.7 per cent.
Ali Koschel, the senior manager for population health planning and data with the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, said the region also had higher rates of women with low educational attainment and higher rates of single parent families.
"Access to services can also influence those things. We certainly have a huge disparity between regional and metro in terms of incomes, and just things like geographic size and the difficulties there," Dr Koschel said.
"We're compounded by having poor internet access as well, so you can't always put telehealth services in place.
"I think most of the disparity can be linked to the differences in the social demographics between a regional area and a metro area. It is an entirely different profile altogether in terms of what it looks like and access to services."|
Dr Koschel said rural areas were also faced with a lack of health services.
"We just don't have a plethora of service providers who are waiting there," she said.
"I think what we have to do is re-educate people about what the health system looks like now. It doesn't look like what it used to look like 10 to 15 years ago.
"I think it's certainly taking that into account and saying to communities, 'well if we have to draw the services differently, what would that look like for you?'"
Dr Koschel said feedback from the community was that women wanted to birthing services "closer to home".
"We certainly understand that. Because of the disparity in terms of distance and the way health services are able to be provided now, it's not always going to be possible to have those maternity services close to where they are," she said.
"But certainly shared care models and low-risk births can still occur hopefully closer to a person's home without them all having to travel to Wagga or Griffith to deliver."
"We've been hearing pretty strongly that's an issue. Both LHD and PHN are working on strengthening those shared care services so that people can use general practice and be able to have low-risk births closer to home.
This week the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and the Murrumbidgee Local Health District joined forced and made a commitment to improving maternal and child health across the region with the signing of the Murrumbidgee Maternal and Child Health Strategy 2019-2022.
"The intent of the strategy is for both MPHN and MLHD to have an agreed framework to guide investment, partnership and implementation over the next three years with the aim of better maternal and child health outcomes in our region," MPHN chief executive officer Melissa Neal said.