Birth attendant uses plastic bags as gloves to deliver babies

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A VILLAGE birth attendant (VBA) from a rural village in Morobe says she has been using plastic shopping bags as hand gloves for years to deliver babies.
Tinola Manas, 40, said there were many challenges that affected childbirth in her rural Poiyu village situated in Menyamya’s Nanima-Kariba local level government (LLG).
She said one important aspect that had plagued the village for many years was not having a professional midwife and a proper birthing facility in all 14 wards of the LLG. Despite having no formal education, Manas volunteered to be trained as a VBA to help pregnant women in ward eight.
“I’ve been a VBA for as long as I can remember,” she said, adding that she sees about five pregnant women a week.
“I have delivered babies in pit toilets, in the bush, but most times, under my house.
“There is no electricity. I’ve had to burn dry leaves to provide light when working at night.
“I’ve used banana leaves as a bed for the mothers and old clothes to wrap their newborns – these babies are the future human resource of PNG.” According to Manas, there are 14 VBAs in each ward, but some have stopped serving for personal reasons.
She said many pregnant women lost their lives on their way to her or to the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae (a 24-hour trip) for proper medical attention; some, including VBAs, have been swept away by rivers.
“I’m not a medical professional, but I do what I can to assist,” she said.
“We don’t have a vehicle for quick medevac of emergency cases – I have lost mothers from birth complications and blood loss.
“We have no transport, no funding, no Government assistance to help our rural mothers in all 14 wards.
“People in the village don’t understand that my position is not funded and at times attack me when frustrated but I am committed to this service and continue to do so.”
This year, Manas was appointed as the women representative of the village and dedicated herself to seeking assistance for the pregnant women in her LLG.
Through Morobe’s community development division, No.1 Hire Cars’ Good Samaritan Foundation donated birthing equipment to help pregnant women in this rural area.
No.1 Hire Cars group operations manager Luke Brere last week donated hand gloves, scissors, gauze, threads, chord clamps, mats as birthing beds and clothes for women and babies.
Manas, accompanied by ward councillor Jack Mena, said it was the first help they had seen in many years.
She said this would help many women across the 14 wards.
No.1 Hire Cars group, through its Good Samaritan Foundation, will make monthly donations, it said.