David Fisher introduced Dr Amanda Watson, a Mobile Communication Research Consultant who’s been in PNG since ’04, setting up the PNG Childbirth Emergency Phone for use in remote areas. This important work is funded by Oz Aid and Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority. Her Assistant is local PNG man Gaius Sabumei, who has an Arts Degree, works in the health sector, is a keen footballer and is visiting Deakin Uni as a Speaker.
Gaius thanked Bayside GRC for sponsoring his trip to Australia. The project has been running for 9 months so far, Milne bay Province is on tip of the tail of PNG, media & communications are poor; lots of surrounding islands, over 800 languages, different cultures and traditions, no electricity or newspapers, some areas have radio, no emergency 000 phone services.
Amanda added that health services have nurses, no doctors, local hospital has 4 cubicles and 4 midwives. PNG has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world; 733/100,000. 5 women die/day while giving birth, life-time risk of dying in pregnancy is 1/20, in Aust. it’s 1/10,000. Rural Health Workers beginning to feel much better supported now due to Freecall phone in Labour Ward for use in emergency during childbirth, staffed 24 hours /day. Most deaths are preventable, now don’t need to move patients over bumpy roads for further help as can call a doctor. Pilot project in PNG, mobile coverage now quite good, averaging 20 calls/month since starting in November. Amanda shared several personal stories with us and she and Gaius were asked numerous questions.