In a profession dominated by women, Elijah Tami thrives on the challenge of providing critical services for expecting mothers.
Midwives provide specialised healthcare to women during pregnancy, labour and the period after labour aiming to facilitate a positive experience centered on the mother’s and baby’s needs.
While the term ‘midwife’ might suggest a female-only practice, for Elijah it is about saving mothers and babies in remote areas of Papua New Guinea – regardless of the attending professional’s gender. This critical healthcare role has become Elijah’s passion – and one has been able to develop further through an Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarship.
‘My decision to become a midwife happened one evening whilst working as a general nurse at the Albinama Health Sub Centre, in the Ambunti District in East Sepik Province,’ Elijah said.
That evening, Elijah was attending to a 38-year-old mother in active labour. The mother’s labour had been delayed for 15 hours by an obstetric emergency, shoulder dystocia, and required the expertise of a specialised midwife.
Elijah explained that a shoulder dystocia is a complication that occurs during delivery when an infant’s shoulder become lodged above the mother’s pubic bone. Elijah was unfamiliar with how to treat the condition but remained determined to help the mother and her baby.
‘Presented with the case, I tried all I could help the mother, and still that was not enough. I felt so helpless that evening, although I did all I could, and we lost the mother and her baby,’ Elijah explained
‘I could not forgive myself, even though it was beyond my control, I felt responsible and was overwhelmed with a sense of guilt. My heart sank, and tears rolled down my face as I walked out of that delivery room.
‘I cried and told myself if only I had known the correct procedures to perform given it was a case only a trained midwife could handle, I would have saved the mother and her child.’
From that encounter, Elijah decided to gain the necessary qualifications in midwifery to help prevent the same tragic experience happening again. He applied for the Australia Awards In-PNG scholarship to study midwifery and completed his degree at the Pacific Adventist University in 2016.
Elijah now works at South Seas Evangelical Church Health Services as the officer in charge of the Albinama Health Centre. He says he is grateful to Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships for giving him the opportunity to achieve his dream of becoming a midwife and can confidently say that he is now capable of handling obstetric emergencies.
“Being a qualified midwife, I have so much confidence in providing neonatal, safe motherhood and child health care. Although I work in a remote health center, the knowledge attained through this scholarship has enabled me to manage critical cases,” he said.
Whilst challenges can exist in taking account of locals’ customary beliefs when it comes to healthcare, Elijah is grateful that his qualification enables him to educate people and raise more awareness about obstetric care.
He observes that there has since been a reduction in neonatal, maternal mortality and morbidity rates and is proud of the role he can play in this.
‘I am hugely grateful for my job; it is a rewarding and joyous career because there is no greater feeling than to share an intimate moment for families and to be a part of it.’
Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships are prominent awards offered by the Australian Government to support service delivery in health, education and transport. Through study and research and practical training in PNG, scholarship recipients will develop the knowledge and skills to drive change and to make positive contributions to social and economic development in Papua New Guinea.
Applications of Intake 2020 of Australia Awards In-PNG scholarships is open until Friday 23 August 2019. Find out more at https://www.australiaawardspng.org/study-in-png/