- The World Health Organization Collaborating Centre at UTS with the WHO office in Papua New Guinea have launched a program to improve maternal health outcomes in PNG through supporting high quality midwifery education
- UTS Professor of Midwifery Caroline Homer is directing the recruitment of eight international expert midwives to work at each of PNG's four midwifery schools
A program targeting midwifery education in Papua New Guinea has been launched to accelerate the country's progress towards Millennium Development Goals for improved maternal health.
Funded by AusAID, the $US10 million program will provide support over two years to improve maternal health outcomes through supporting high-quality midwifery education.
The World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in the UTS Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health (WHO CC UTS) and the WHO office in Papua New Guinea will recruit eight international expert midwives to work at each of PNG's four midwifery schools.
The project will also support the recruitment of two obstetricians to work in two regional hospitals and their surrounding catchment areas. They will provide mentoring and continuous competency development to PNG obstetricians and midwives, as well as assist in the development of educational and practice materials.
"PNG is one of 57 countries world-wide that has been identified by the World Health Organization as suffering from a crisis in human resources for health," said WHO CC UTS Director Michele Rumsey.
"PNG's maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the Western Pacific and skilled attendance at birth is low, mainly due to an acute shortage of midwives, poor accessibility to services, lack of adequate facilities for birth and low levels of trust in public services."
Project Director and UTS Professor of Midwifery, Caroline Homer, said the expert midwives would work closely with the academic and clinical personnel in the schools and associated hospitals to support capacity-building of educators, clinical supervisors and preceptors.
"Although the schools have a core of skilled and motivated educators, their teaching and clinical skills need to be further developed and supported if the quality of graduates is to improve and quality services are to be delivered," Professor Homer said.
"The expert teams will also work closely with obstetricians and other health care workers to enhance midwifery education and practice to facilitate improved standards of care."
Ms Rumsey said the overall aim was to provide technical support and mentoring to practising healthcare workers and teachers to improve practitioners' skills in caring for women during pregnancy, including the management of complications in pregnancy, and birth.
"It is expected that maternal, infant and reproductive health services will be improved through the enhanced capacity of the maternal health workforce, in particular midwives, for the future," she said.
The project will be conducted in close collaboration with WHO PNG, the PNG National Department of Health and AusAID. It will be supported by accessUTS Pty Ltd, the consulting arm of UTS.