‘If I am very knowledgeable and skilful but my attitude isn’t good towards my patient then I’m not a good midwife. A good attitude can also contribute to minimising complications mothers encounter during labour and delivery. And this can also prevent maternal and neonatal death”.

This was Janet Murat’s response when asked what she learnt on scholarship that she will be implementing in her work.

Janet, from New Ireland Province, was one of ten Newcrest-sponsored scholars studying in PNG under the Newcrest-Australia Awards Scholarships. She studied a Bachelor in Midwifery in 2018 at St. Mary’s School of Nursing in East New Britain Province.

Maternal and neonatal health is a major concern in Papua New Guinea with reports showing that most maternal deaths were preventable.

One of the major contributing factors to this is the lack of skilled and qualified midwives in the health sector. Another Newcrest-sponsored alumna, Sharon Mendam from Morobe Province, reflected on her work prior to studies. She described how the only midwife at her health centre at the time would become overwhelmed with the number of referrals that came in from the smaller aid posts. She saw that one midwife wasn’t enough.

Lack of proper health facilities is also another issue that health workers deal with on a daily basis when trying to provide healthcare to people.

Emos Isei, who is also a Newcrest-sponsored alumnus, and a male midwife at Etep Rural Hospital in Morobe Province, is currently working closely with his management to write a proposal for assistance to increase space in the health facility for maternal care. ‘We have more than twenty deliveries per month and our space is limited’.

Emos who currently works in the family health services section of the hospital, says that he enjoys working and caring for the mothers. Even on his days off he is always on call, ready to help.

The challenges in the work of healthcare professionals remains. However, it is promising to see that after graduating, midwifery alumni are taking on the challenges to look for opportunities to pass on the skills and knowledge they have learnt while on studies as Australia Scholarship awardees.

‘I am very happy and eager to impart and implement the skills and knowledge to my colleagues in order to provide quality care to all mothers and babies’ says Janet, who plans to implement either fortnightly or monthly in-service training on topics of maternal health to her fellow colleagues. She hopes this will contribute to improving maternal care in her community and New Ireland Province as a whole.

Since 2017 Australia Awards has partnered with Newcrest Mining to contribute to improving maternal and neonatal health in PNG through the provision of midwifery and nursing scholarships.