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Training midwives to make a difference

Thirty year old Pamela Nave from Kokoda is one of 500 young women and men who are receiving Australian scholarships from 2011 to 2015 to study midwifery in Papua New Guinea. Pamela was sister in charge of the Kokoda Health Center for six years before she decided to study midwifery at the Pacific Adventist University's School of Medical Sciences this year.

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Pamela Nave and Clinical Midwifery Facilitator Bridget Ferguson
attending to a patient at the antenatal clinic at the Port Moresby 
General Hospital.

"I'm fortunate to be given the opportunity to further my career in health care. I chose to return back to school and study midwifery because of my experiences as a nurse. I've seen many women give birth without proper care and many died because we didn't know what to do." said Pamela.

Pamela remembers vividly one of those many instances. She explained how a young mother expecting her first baby died on arrival at the clinic she was in charge of from loss of blood. "Most times I feel angry and helpless because we have very little experience dealing with cases like this; there are no doctors or trained midwives to offer proper care. Shortages of medical supplies was also a constant problem," she said.

A few months into the one year course, which includes practical sessions at the Port Moresby General Hospital's antenatal clinic, and Pamela is feeling confident she's better placed to handle situations that once seemed impossible. "I've seen a lot of bad cases, but I now have the skills to deal with most situations." she noted.

The Australian-supported Maternal and Child Health Initiative is providing scholarships, upgrading midwifery schools and supporting highly-skilled international midwives to mentor teachers and students throughout PNG. This year, PNG ranked a disappointing 164th out of 178 countries in Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers report. These efforts will directly assist in increasing the number and quality of midwives in PNG, which is one of the most effective ways of improving outcomes for mothers and their children.