“Midwifery is a beautiful career. You put a smile on a woman’s face as she steps out of your door and walks away with a silent word of ‘thanks’. You’re blessed to witness the first moment of a life.”
Melisha Gilmo had interests and passion to be a specialist midwife since childhood. She is driven to save women’s lives, because her mother nearly died giving birth to her fifth sibling. After graduating from nursing college, Melisha was posted to a very remote health centre in East New Britain Province. Medical supplies were very difficult to come by due to the geographical location.
“While I was working there, a woman who gave birth to her tenth baby lost a lot of blood, which is called Postpartum Haemorrhage. All my intravenous (IV) fluids were expired and there was none left to resuscitate this woman. I climbed up trees to find a mobile network to contact the obstetrics and gynaecology specialist in Vunapope to seek advice. The doctor’s advice was that the only sterile water I could use was the coconut juice (Kulau in pidgin). I followed his advice until a helicopter came and rescued her to the hospital. By then I knew that I needed more skills to manage women and babies.”
Melisha studied midwifery through an Australia Awards scholarship at the University of PNG and was a pioneer of the 18 month program at the School of Medicine and Health Science (SMHS). She completed her studies in 2021 and graduated in April 2022.
“As a mother and wife I found it very difficult to manage my family commitments and studies at the same time, especially financially as I am the breadwinner in the family. But, this didn’t stop me from studying because Australia Awards PNG has lifted my burden financially.
“Also in the year 2020, the COVID-19 issue was at its peak and many students withdrew due to fear, but we hung on to our studies because of encouragement from the committed staff of Australia Awards PNG and the SMHS. Now that I have completed my studies, I have confidence in doing my work and I know what to do in the cases that present to me. Therefore, personally I feel that this qualification is another achievement in my life.”
For Melisha, her studies are more than just a qualification. While she hopes to help many individuals with her new skills and knowledge, she also believes that good midwifery has the power to impact the whole community.
“Midwifery is not a labour ward centred duty, it is how you touch a woman’s life during their most needed time for support. It is all about being loyal to the woman and how you involve the husband and the whole family to support this woman.
“Studying midwifery helps nurses better understand a woman’s culture, roles and responsibilities. Barriers can be broken by educating others in the community for better health and to reduce the maternal mortality rate in PNG.”