By ROSELYN ELLISON
FATHER-of-four Fidelis Gira is a community health worker trained to take care of mothers and their new-born babies.
He works at the health centre on Simberi Island in the Namatanai District of New Ireland.
He was the only man among the nine who received certificates on maternal and new-born health care after a six-month training programme at the St Mary’s Vunapope Hospital in Kokopo, East New Britain.
Fidelis, 42, is from Pinikidu village in Konos, Central New Ireland.
After secondary school, he attended the Lemakot School of Nursing in 1996 and 1997 where he received a community health worker certificate.
He began working at the Simberi Health Centre in 2014 after a stint with the Lihir medical centre owned by the Lihir Mining Company (now Newcrest).
The health facility at Simberi is small and has no health extension officer or nurse. He was manning it by himself from October 2014. A female community health worker joined him in 2016.
It was hard to provide care for pregnant women because of the lack of facilities. Antenatal care, safe supervised delivery by a male health worker, cultural barriers and safe midwifery care were the challenges.
“Seeing mothers and babies who cannot access health care services is sad.”
He therefore did not hesitate when an invitation was received for someone from Simberi to attend the training in Kokopo this year.
“I volunteered because I have a heart for the people. And I honestly have no idea about being a midwife, to help mothers deliver their babies.”
“ Even though I am a male health worker, I will help mothers and their babies the best way I can.”
He remembers the case of a mother who died after giving birth. Her baby survived.
Now he has a fair idea of what to do after that Kokopo training.
Although Fidelis knows there are many challenges such as the lack of human resources, trained health workers, equipment, logistics, maternity services, communication and transport, he vows to provide the service the best way he can.
While at St Mary’s Vunapope Hospital, he observed models to improve outcomes including learning methods and skills. He also learnt skills on new ways which are safe in providing services.
“After the six-month training, I can perform to the best of my ability when it comes to maternal and newborn care. To improve maternal and newborn health care needs a collaborative effort from all partners and stakeholders to promote and strengthen the public private partnership concept.”
He believes that health is everyone’s business.
He also feels comfortable dealing with women health now.
“Even though I am a male health worker, I will help mothers and their babies the best way I can. I will help them with a kind loving heart. I am a father. I have a wife. I have a mother. I have sisters and I have daughters. Therefore no matter what, I will do my work as I am trained to do.”