You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.
Skip to content

Papua New Guinea’s midwives are unsung heroes

Working often in difficult conditions they prepare women for childbirth; help ensure a safe outcome and guide a mother on her reproductive health after pregnancy.

Nancy Patrick is a certified Midwife at Mendi Provincial Hospital. Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Midwifery from Lutheran School of Nursing, she is also a proud recipient of the Oil Search Foundation scholarship (OSF) program in 2019 and 2020.

Young woman on graduation day smiling with a gown and cap

Being a registered nurse for four years and having worked previously as a labour and delivery nurse, the experience which inspired her to become a midwife is one she’ll never forget.

“I was on-call one morning, when a mother from a remote village between Ialibu and Pangia came into the hospital with heavy bleeding. She had given birth but was experiencing a retained placenta, a condition where the placenta fails to separate during the third stage of labour.” said Nancy Patrick.

“At that time, I had no idea as to what was happening to that mother, nor could I help her, given my limited knowledge of midwifery. This made me feel completely helpless. Although I tried to help minimise blood loss, I felt it was not good enough. I wanted to know what was happening so that I could help her.” adds Nancy.

“Thankfully, an obstetrician was called in from afar and came to the mother’s rescue just in time. He also showed me what I could do if faced with similar cases in the future. At that very instance, I decided I wanted to become a midwife. I wanted to be able to respond to emergencies but also to focus on low-risk, normal physiological birth and reproductive care for all women.”

“OSF provided me the opportunity to achieve my goal. In 2020, I successfully graduated, topping my class and receiving the Academic Excellence Award Medal. I owe this success to OSF. They gave me a chance to become a qualified midwife, where I now serve the women in my home province, Southern Highlands.”
- Nancy Patrick Midwife, Mendi Provincial Hospital

Karlyne Pukaikia, OSF Executive Manager said, “the OSF scholarship program aims to assist young committed Papua New Guineans, to complete their education, so that they can contribute meaningfully to the development of Papua New Guinea.”

“We are happy to have supported Nancy to a state where she can now effectively serve the midwifery needs of women and children in Southern Highlands and Papua New Guinea. We are pleased that through the scholarship program, we were able to assist with increasing the number of midwives in Southern Highlands and Hela. The essential skills these midwives have will enable them to help with midwifery needs in the provinces.”

Since 2018, the OSF scholarship program has supported seven nurses from Hela, Southern Highlands and Gulf Provinces to undergo a Bachelor of Midwifery program. Five of these scholarship recipients are now serving as qualified midwives in Hela and Southern Highlands health facilities. The other two recipients will complete their program at the end of 2021 and return to Gulf and Hela provinces.