Saving Mothers and Newborns – a collaboration between MFAT, Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Pacific Society of Reproductive Health and Counties Manukau
In the Pacific Region, 3 women die from childbirth related causes and 30 new-born babies don’t survive following birth, EVERY DAY. Preventing the death of mothers and newborns is a key health priority for Kiribati. NZ MFAT has been supporting staff training for Kiribati Health workers to help address this problem, via the Pacific Emergency Maternal and Neonatal Training Course (PEMNeT). This is a practical hands on course where midwives, obstetric nurses and doctors train together to manage obstetric and neonatal emergencies well. The PEMNeT course was developed by the Pacific Society of Reproductive Health for use throughout the Pacific.
NZ MFAT funded a Pacific midwife/nurse and a doctor from many PICs to attend the inaugural PEMNeT Facilitator Training Workshop in July 2016 in Auckland. Since then MFAT (via the Counties Manukau Health, Pacific Health Development Unit, and Health Specialists NZ Ltd) has funded Dr Sharron Bolitho, Obstetrician at Christchurch Women’s Hospital to facilitate the implementation of this programme in Kiribati.
A PEMNeT Facilitators Training workshop was conducted from 16-18 April 2018, and immediately following this as part of their training, the Kiribati PEMNeT Facilitator team conducted a 2-day PEMNET course for health staff from Tungaru Central Hospital, Betio Hospital, and the health clinics. The facilitator team includes both doctors and midwives and the School of Nursing & Health (SoNH of Kiribati Institute of Technology) staff. The aim was to strengthen and build the local team, which was achieved.
The local team had many innovative ideas on how to increase the impact and effectiveness of the programme including;
- Adapting and localising the course further to make it really appropriate for Kiribati.
- Rolling out the training to the health centres/clinics based medical assistants, and nurse/ midwives, at the outer islands
- Designing and supplying an emergency box to every health centre/clinic in Kiribati for use in 2 of the birth emergencies which are the biggest killers of mothers worldwide. These are post-partum (post birth) haemorrhage and preeclampsia/ eclampsia (severe hypertension and seizures). Some Kiribati mothers have died from these causes within the last 10 years.
Much has been achieved with rolling out PEMNeT but there is still a lot of work to be done. This work is part of a wider Kiribati health strategy to build health workforce capacity. This project is a collaboration between MFAT (NZ), Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Pacific Society of Reproductive Health and Counties Manukau District Health Board. This worthwhile work will benefit not only the mothers and babies of Kiribati, but the experience in Kiribati will be able to assist other PICs in making this an effective programme throughout the Pacific. Kiribati could be the leaders in the Pacific Region in PEMNeT!