Improving maternal health care

Health Watch, Normal

The National, Thursday 06th of March, 2014

A K23 MILLION maternal and child health initiative funded by Australia will begin a new phase this year.
It is led by the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Development.
While proving highly successful in raising the quality of midwifery education in PNG, it still faces many challenges in helping end the high rates of maternal and child death.
In a crowded Port Moresby hospital ward, just one hour north of Australia, a midwife attends to a young woman giving birth.
As any caring professional would, she prays for no complications.
When Adjunct Professor Pat Brodie first visited PNG 15 years ago, she was shocked to say the least.
“It was very confronting. Essential supplies such as water, gloves, electricity – as well as any degree of privacy – were all extremely deficient. It was the equivalent of many third-world situations.”
Returning in 2010 as an adviser for the World Health Organisation, Brodie realised many of the same problems she encountered 15 years earlier had not changed.
“PNG is often compared to the rest of the world as only second to Afghanistan in terms of maternal health care and child mortality. It’s on par with many African countries.”
Maternal health services in PNG continue to be hard to access.
According to a 2011 report by the United Nations Population Fund, half of all births in PNG are not attended by any skilled health personnel, and there’s just one midwife for every 1,000 births.
Since starting in 2012, the maternal and child health initiative in PNG has improved learning and collaboration opportunities for midwifery educators, as well as established a better clinical education experience for students.
Building a successful, effective PNG midwife workforce requires a broad focus, WHO CC director Michele Rumsey said.