The support from Australians is helping train village health volunteers, provide birthing kits to midwives, and support mobile outreach clinics to remote communities.
These solutions may seem simple, but they save lives. Jacinta Oa is one of two community health workers who service the almost 10,000 people who live in the villages surrounding Waima.
For a long time her clinic, which was once primary school classroom, struggled for resources.
“Many of the primary health care services at Waima Health Sub-Centre were not functioning,” ChildFund PNG health program manager Olive Oa says.
“Since ChildFund began the health projects in Kairuku, it has strengthened the health system and improved this facility to a standard where women and children can now access many vital services such as vaccinations, antenatal and postnatal services and most of all having a delivery room where mothers can safely deliver their babies.”
One of the most recent upgrades was the addition of seven solar panel, which give the clinic reliable electricity around the clock.
“It used to be a real struggle in the night, when I had to attend to an emergency and I had to go by torch light” ” Jacinta says.
“Usually the relatives who bring the patient in also switch on their torches to brighten up the room.”
Jacinta and her fellow community health worker now have a network of trained village health volunteers who can assist mothers in emergencies and encourage people in their villages to go to the clinic to give birth to their babies.
These village health volunteers play an important role in teaching pregnant women about the dangers of giving birth at home, as well as monitoring women who may be at risk of complications during pregnancy.
ChildFund is helping take some of the burden off mothers by partnering with village health volunteers and local health officials to provide mobile outreach clinics in remote villages.
For the outreach program, the health team sets up a camp in central locations over four-day periods and provides antenatal and family planning care for women, deworming and immunisation for children under five years old and general health care.
For many people in remote villages, this is a rare opportunity to speak face-to-face with trained health professionals.
Jacinta says this work is encouraging more and more women to give birth at her clinic. It’s a decision that many, like Aiva and her mother, are glad they made.
“I assisted Aiva when she delivered her second and third baby in the village,” says Aiva’s mother. “I’m so happy we brought her to the clinic this time.
“If she had been at home, I would have panicked when I realised there were two babies. I would have been very scared.”