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Pregnant women in remote areas of Hela province will have access to better services thanks to the initiative of a local health worker to improve maternal health skills.

Pregnant women have access to better health services

Located in the remote Tebi LLG, the Hangapo health centre provides services for an estimated population of 10,000, serving many council wards in the area.  While the health facility provides basic health care, until recently it lacked childbirth services.  This meant that women were required to either make the long journey to the provincial capital, Tari, or give birth without a skilled health worker in attendance.

Realising that this was an important need for local women, Community Health Worker, Sister Kency
Terrance, undertook a six-month midwifery training course that was run by Hela Provincial Health Authority (HPHA) and funded by Oil Search Foundation (OSF).

“This training provided me with the skills to safely deliver babies, something I was unable to do six months ago. I also learned how to provide health checks for pregnant mothers, spot problems before they became an emergency and take care of women and babies afterbirth to prevent complications"
- Sister Kency

Visits of mothers seeking health care while pregnant – ante natal visits-have improved significantly since the training.

‘Village birth was the normal practice for mothers in our community, but this is now changing as
more women become aware of the services available for them.’

Maria Anton, a local mother, said she cried tears of joy, when she heard the news. “To me this was a big deal because our village is very remote, and with the continuous tribal fights, most of us mothers just deliver in the village with help from native herbs. Two years ago, I lost my big sister and her baby due to complications during delivery, only because we could not travel into Tari to get the help she needed.”

She adds, I feared having to go through the same experience, but when I recently learnt that Hangapo now provides before and after birth services, I was so happy. I gathered all the expectant mothers in my village and encouraged them to visit the health centre to get real medical help.

Dr James Kintwa, CEO Hela PHA is also pleased. “To prevent maternal and child deaths, the rates of which are very high across PNG, the Hela PHA has set out to increase health facility deliveries by providing skilled care. Hangapo health centre is a testament to this.

"The recent midwifery upskilling training that was run for our community health workers, has enabled the health centre to provide maternity services to mothers and babies”
- Dr Kintwa

‘It was only recently that mothers could not access a skilled worker and were increasing at risk of complications by giving birth at home. But that has changed, and it’s wonderful to see that quality healthcare is now available. We will continue to build the capacity of our health workers who contribute to achieving better health outcomes.’ add Dr Kintwa.