Hela joins project designed to prevent childbirth fatalities


HELA has joined two other provinces in introducing the “Saving Lives – Spreading Smiles” project designed to prevent childbirth fatalities.
The project was launched in Koroba last week and witnessed by Governor Philip Undialu and local MPs, including Minister for Immigration and Border Security Petrus Thomas.
Also present were representativ es from non-governmental organisations, churches and development partners, including Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis.
The Australian government is funding the roll-out of the project, which was launched at the Parliament State Function Room in September following a successful pilot project in Eastern Highlands and Port Moresby General Hospital.
The aproject equips health workers with the appropriate skills to manage the most common maternal and newborn illnesses and provide referral services for sick mothers and newborns.
At the provincial level, a special care nursery and kangaroo mother care unit will be established to provide specialised care to sick babies. All 32 health facility staff in Hela will be trained and equipped to manage sick mothers and newborns.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is spearheading the project. Its country representative, David McCloughlin, said: “At the community level, we will train and equip village health volunteers (VHVs), around 100 in a district (now we have trained 20 VHVs and are with us) for health promotive, preventive and referral cares to the higher centres.”
McCloughlin congragulated the Hela health authority for launching the programme.
He said funding support from the Australian government would ensure that more than 150,000 newborns and their mothers received a comprehensive package of care to ensure they survived and thrived, including more than 9800 mothers and their newborns in Hela.
He said far too many babies died within the first month of their lives when they were most vulnerable.
“An underlying cause of these deaths is neonatal hypothermia or low temperatures in babies in the Highlands areas,” he said.