WhatsApp group Midwifery Community of Practice has been saving lives since its formation in early 2022. Initiated by Cherolyn Polomon, an Australia Awards PNG (AAPNG) midwifery alumni and volunteer chat facilitator, the groups’ critical discussions and reflections on maternal health are helping women all over PNG.
Cherolyn reflects on a recent case of a junior midwife stationed at a rural health centre who used the online group chat to seek immediate assistance with a high-risk birth.“To my surprise, in less than an hour, senior midwives from all over the country were advising the junior midwife. Midwives at the hospital were alerted to the referral so they received the woman on time and managed to save both the mother and the baby. The midwife was congratulated for identifying the complications early and raising the alarm which saved both lives,” she remarks.
The Australia Awards PNG’s online portal – Alumni 360, where the Midwifery Community of Practice was initially established in 2018 served as the model for this WhatsApp group. Hoping to regularly connect with other AAPNG alumni who had studied at the Pacific Adventist University, Cherolyn created the WhatsApp group and invited them to join. Soon the group grew to include other AAPNG midwifery alumni from other institutions.
The group today has expanded outside of the AAPNG alumni, with 200 members from PNG and Australia, comprised of registered midwives, midwifery students, educators, clinicians, administrators, policy makers and world renown Midwifery Professor Caroline E Homer who has contributed a wealth of research knowledge to the midwifery practice in PNG.
Cherolyn also uses the online community chat group to share AAPNG scholarship applications, alumni grant applications and to remind alumni to maintain their annual membership to the PNG Australia Alumni Association (PNGAAA). She is eager to use the group chat to organize an AAPNG alumni event in the coming months and discuss important collaborations towards improving maternal and child health in PNG.