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Deep in the heart of Southern Highlands Province, in the remote Nipa-Kutubu District, lies Pimaga Rural Hospital. It is a government run rural health facility delivering health services to around 10,000 people.

In 2021 one determined group of health workers fought against the pressure of the pandemic to ensure Pimaga hospital could provide services.

There is currently no doctor resident at the hospital as the pandemic has forced the Provincial Health Authority (PHA) to bring all available doctors into Mendi to help manage the crisis.

Remaining and dedicated staff sacrificed time off work and holidays to work long hours for the health of their community.

“We delivered 22 babies during the festive season. It was a busy time. We could not take our days off or go on our planned holidays, we were responsible for the lives and wellbeing of our people”.
- Pauline Rex Sister in Charge

To help these committed health workers and support a stretched health facility, the Santos funded OSF (previously known as Oil Search Foundation) in collaboration with the Southern Highlands PHA  donated K3million of medical equipment required to provide day-to-day care in a timely and effective manner.

With this donation the dedicated staff reported that Pimaga mothers safely delivered 175 babies throughout the year with 22 of these delivered over a two-week period. Thirty-one of these deliveries were categorised as abnormal or high-risk illustrating the birthing complications all too common in Papua New Guinea leading to the deaths of mothers and/or babies especially in unsupervised settings.

The staff were delighted that all women safely delivered their babies and the hospital recorded no maternal deaths in 2021. the hospital also achieved the national target of 50% of expected deliveries for that catchment population performed in a health facility.

These are rare achievements for a health facility in rural PNG, especially with limited staff working in the midst of a pandemic.

When asked about how they managed to deal with complicated deliveries without a trained midwife or doctor, Sr Rex said ”Amongst our team we have a few very skilled and experienced officers, who managed the situations very well. We also received much help from SHPHA. When we needed to refer the six deliveries as well as other patients to Mendi, we reached out to the PHA and they were able to quickly assist with sending an ambulance. That made a lot of difference. It helped us to save lives.”

“We knew we did not have enough health workers, so we had to work smarter and at times harder. We all agreed to help each other throughout the year. My team showed real commitment, faithfulness and love for our profession and the people we are here to serve.” Sr Pauline proudly added.