TWO Nepalese midwives will return home with advanced ultrasound skills after a six-week scholarship in Port Macquarie.
Their new-found skills will save lives.
The Port Macquarie-based humanitarian foundation, Australians for Women’s Health, established the scholarship program to address perinatal and maternal mortality rates in Nepal.
Port Macquarie Base Hospital staff have welcomed scholarship winners Jyoti Chaulagain and Sonam Sherpa.
Both midwives are from remote areas of Nepal where most women give birth at home.
Miss Sherpa said the scholarship experience was amazing.
“It will help us a lot,” she said.
“The system here is totally different than in Nepal.”
Miss Chaulagain said women did not want to go to hospital in Nepal, perhaps for privacy reasons, and the geography.
“They are pregnant and they have to walk a lot,” she said in reference to the long walks many women face just to reach health care.
Portable ultrasound machines mean the scans can be performed in remote villages.
Miss Chaulagain and Miss Sherpa will train other midwives in ultrasound use.
The scholarship follows Australians for Women’s Health ultrasound training camps in Nepal during which midwives learn the basics of pregnancy ultrasound.
The scholarship winners have observed antenatal care, the birthing unit, special care nursery, parenting education and community midwifery service.
They are receiving advanced training in obstetric ultrasound and midwifery care.
Australians for Women’s Health founder and director Dr Ray Hodgson said the scholarship incentive inspired midwives during the training camp, while the big benefit was learning more advanced ultrasound use and becoming teachers themselves.
The ultrasound can pick up problems during pregnancy which can save the lives of both the mothers and their babies.
“Ninety per cent of women in rural areas in Nepal deliver at home,” Dr Hodgson said.
“It’s a cultural, traditional way that pregnancy is looked after in Nepal.”
He said when an ultrasound service was provided in a village, women and their husbands suddenly came from everywhere as they wanted a picture of their unborn baby.
“It allows the safer, modern obstetric management of midwives to wind its way into the traditional, cultural and more dangerous current delivery techniques,” Dr Hodgson said.
Rotary Port Macquarie sponsored accommodation for the six-week scholarship experience, providing a room at Rotary Lodge.
Australians for Women’s Health thanked Rotary, Port Macquarie Base Hospital staff and Port Macquarie Ultrasound.