By TOMMY MAIMA
IN Papua New Guinea, many pregnant mothers die while giving birth. Babies born safely are most likely to become malnourished later in life or become ill from infections or illness like TB. Lack of health education and information in rural communities and lack of trained health workers also contribute to families not receiving important information on what they can do to avoid sickness and live a long, healthy life.
In 2014, Unicef records in all hospital shows admission of children under the age of 5 contributes to 50 per cent of hospital admissions.
Lack of health information dissemination has led to health issues plaguing women and young children in the community such as unwanted pregnancy, malnourished children and birth complications, among many others.
World Vision has been working among the more than 800 people in Musong-Tale in the Nawae District in Morobe who face similar issues. Among the young mothers of the village is 20-year-old Francisca Mamblo. Who became pregnant after having a consensual relationship and naturally became afraid of how her family would react. Even more challenging was the question of how she would look after the baby and herself.
“My parents did not say much about how I would manage myself when I was going to start a family of my own so when I become pregnant, I did not know what to do. I remember having all sorts of negative thoughts about how I would manage and have a healthy baby,” said Francisca.
“I was convinced to see Ruth who is the Community Health Resource Person (CHRP). I have seen pregnant mothers and mothers who delivered safely after consulting her for counselling and advise. I was confident that she would help me through my situation.
“One morning I went to Ruth’s house looking worried. She asked what was and I explained my situation. She encouraged me to be strong and convinced me that there was nothing to be worried about as this was a situation that many woman faced.”
Ruth Isa was trained by World Vision in 2015 when World Vision started work in her village. She provides health education for mothers and children. In early 2016, she attended two separate lots of training facilitated by World Vision to empower locals in communities to allow for house visits, especially targeting mothers of young children under two years.
The training provided her with resources such as growth charts and information kits that enabled her to provide proper counselling for mothers using the food pyramid. She also provided information on immunisation, breast feeding and family planning.
Ruth has so far tended to 16 births in her village and continues to impact the lives of children and mothers in Musong-Tale.
She provided Timed and Targeted Counselling to young Francisca who gave birth to a healthy baby named Imelda. Currently nearly eight months old, baby Imelda will be monitored until she reaches the age of two. This is to ensure that she regularly gets the required immunisation and eats healthy nutritious meals. Her mother Francisca is supported with health tips on how to care for the both of them.
“Imelda is a playful and is very active girl we all love to hang around her. My family cares for her very much and I’m grateful for Ruth who continues to visit us and provide vital information needed for Imelda’s growth,” says Francisca with a smile.
A Unicef report indicates that one out of every 13 children in PNG die before reaching the age of five. National statistics show that close to half of the children in PNG are stunted (45 per cent), 24 per cent are underweight and 14 per cent suffer from moderate and severe forms of wasting which are life-threatening for young children.
World Vision’s PNG Health Project aims to ensure mothers and children are in good health and are well nourished by getting on board village volunteers who are equipped with adequate training to implement Time Targeted Counselling and household visits. World Vision’s Health Project in Morobe is implemented in 10 communities in Nawae and Markham districts. Over 40 CHRPs have been trained under the project while 35 are actively working in their respective communities. CHRPs have supported 79 mothers and their children since 2016.
Funded by the Australian NGO Cooperation Programme (ANCP) and supported by World Vision Australia, the PNG Health Project is implemented in Morobe, Madang, National Capital District and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
A total of 313 CHRPs have been trained under the PNG Health Project in three provinces. Since 2016, 336 mothers have been monitored and provided counselling by trained CHRPs.
From these monitoring and Time Together Counselling and household visits, 80 babies were born healthy and without complications and are well nourished. These children are now being monitored until they reach the age of two. The ANCP funded PNG Health Project is a three-year project that started in 2015 and ended last week.
By TOMMY MAIMA