Nurse Melisha doing her best to help women – as a midwife


NURSE Melisha Gilmo had to climb up a tree outside the hospital she was working in, to catch a mobile network so that she could consult a doctor in another hospital about a woman experiencing birth complications.
That experience, and many others, have made her more determined to become a responsible and dedicated midwife, helping as many women as she could to have safe deliveries.
Melisha, 31, from Angoram in East Sepik is married and has a seven-year-old daughter.
She chose that career when she was young after watching her mother nearly losing her life while giving birth to her fifth child.
After graduating from a nursing college, Melisha was posted to a remote health centre in East New Britain, where it was difficult to access medical supplies.

NURSE Melisha Gilmo in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology ward of the Manus General Hospital. – Picture supplied.

“While I was working there, a woman who gave birth to her 10th baby, lost a lot of blood (postpartum haemorrhage).
“All the intravenous (IV) fluids were expired and there was none left to save the woman. So I climbed up a tree to find a mobile network to contact the obstetrics and gynaecology specialist in Vunapope (hospital). The doctor there advise me to use coconut juice (kulau in pidgin).
“I followed his advice (and saved the woman). Later a helicopter arrived to take her to the hospital.”
From that experience, she knew she needed to acquire more skills and qualifications to carry out her work as a midwife efficiently.
Her wish was granted when she was awarded an Australia Awards scholarship to study midwifery at the University of PNG. It was a new 18-month programme at the School of Medicine and Health Science.
After completing her studies at UPNG last year, she worked for 18 months at the St Mary’s Vunapope Hospital before she was posted to the Nutuve Health Centre in Pomio. She also served at the Palie Health Centre in Lihir for three months.
Today, she is working in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology ward of the Manus General Hospital.
She has about 10 years of experience as a health worker.
“As a mother and wife, I sometimes find it difficult to juggle family commitments and my studies, especially finance-wise, as I am the sole breadwinner of the family.
“But it did not stop me from studying – thanks to the Australia Awards PNG for assisting me with my financial burden.”
In 2020 when the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic was at its peak and many university students withdrew because of fear, “we continued our studies because of the encouragement from the staff of Australia Awards PNG and the school of medicine.
“Now that I have completed my studies, I have confidence in doing my work and I know what to do in cases I come across. Personally, I feel that this qualification is another big achievement in my life.”
Melisha regards her studies as more than just getting a qualification. While she hopes to help many women with her skills and knowledge, she also believes that good midwifery has the power to have an impact on the community.
“Midwifery is not a labour ward-centred duty. It is how you touch a woman’s life at a time she badly needs your support. It is all about being loyal to the woman and how you involve the husband and the whole family to support her. Studying midwifery helps nurses better understand a woman’s culture, roles and responsibilities.
“Barriers can be broken by educating others in the community on better health, and to reduce the maternal mortality rate in PNG.”
She knows she had made a wise career choice.
“Midwifery is a beautiful career. You put a smile on a woman’s face as she steps out of the maternity ward door and walks away with a silent word of thanks.”
Not only that, welcoming a new human being into the world also feels so rewarding.
“You are also blessed to witness the first moment of a life.”

– Story and pictures from the Australian Awards in PNG