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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Volunteers save lives in Papua New Guinea

Patricia found Judy bleeding early in the morning. Pregnant with her third child, Judy had gone into labour at home in her village in Kivori, in remote Papua New Guinea (PNG).

She was a four-hour drive away from the nearest hospital, in the capital Port Moresby.

Her mother-in-law, terrified, sent for the nearest available help, and Patricia, a Village Health Volunteer trained to identify and assist mothers during pregnancy and childbirth, arrived soon after.

“I stayed for some time,” Patricia says. “Judy’s water did not break until 3pm and then her contractions started and she delivered the baby, but not the placenta.”

Recognising Judy had a retained placenta and therefore was at risk of developing an infection, Patricia immediately called for a public motor vehicle to take Judy to Beraina health clinic.

This quick diagnosis helped Judy get the medical assistance she needed, potentially saving her life.

“I was so lucky I went to Beraina. At the clinic the nurse helped deliver the placenta [using oxytocin], then she gave me some medicine and I stayed overnight,” Judy says.

“I was so worried and I thought I would be finished.”

Village Health Volunteer Patricia (right) helped Judy (left) get treatment when she had complications during the birth of her daughter Joylyn in Papua New Guinea

Unfortunately, many women in Papua New Guinea have no one to help them when they are giving birth.

In Central Province, where Judy lives, only one in five babies is born in a health clinic with a skilled health worker to address any complications.

“Many women give birth at night so it is too hard to get to the clinic,” Patricia says. “Some might start pains in the afternoon, but labour will begin later in the evening when it is too late to travel.”

ChildFund supporters are helping train more Village Health Volunteers like Patricia to come to the aid of mothers like Judy when they cannot make it to a clinic.

These dedicated volunteers have received training to assist during labour and play an important role in trying to get all mothers to deliver at a clinic.

“After we were trained, almost all the mothers in this area ask for our assistance. Before, some mothers were alone during childbirth.”

Judy is grateful to have had Patricia by her side. She now has a beautiful 18-month-old girl, Joylyn.

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