The Hands Of Rescue (THOR)

Safe Motherhood Programme – Papua New Guinea (PNG)
PNG is one of the worst countries in the world for recorded maternal deaths.

1 in 30 women will die in childbirth in PNG compared with 1 in 10,000 in Australia. About 1 in 10 women in PNG will have a problem delivering a baby, sometimes minor and sometimes major. If they get into difficulty in a remote village they may not survive the problems.

The The Hands Of Rescue (THOR) Foundation’s focus is on achieving Safe Motherhood for women. In particular, their mission is to reduce Maternal Mortality throughout Milne Bay Province and the rest of PNG wherever possible.

Dr Barry Kirby is a registered medical practitioner and obstetrician in PNG and Australia.

A carpenter by trade, Barry started his medical training at age 40 after spending five years in a remote community in the highlands of PNG. His time there as a project manager building a high school and other civil works was to have a profound impact on his life.  In 2000, at the age of 50, he graduated from 10 years of medical and surgical training and later graduated with O&G qualifications. He was determined to serve the mothers who had captured his heart.

“Dr Barry” – as he is known – lives and works in Milne Bay Province (MBP) as a rural GP and runs THOR together with his partner Kila who is also a trained emergency nurse. They travel to the remote corners of the province teaching the management of obstetrics emergencies and engaging in other activities that contribute to a reduction in the number of mothers dying in childbirth.

Objectives – Reduce Maternal Deaths in Milne Bay by:

  • encouraging supervised deliveries,
  • up-skilling health staff through Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC) training in the health centre labour wards,
  • providing a mothers waiting house at health centres that currently don’t have one,
  • creating mother friendly labour rooms,
  • training staff in Jadelle contraceptive implant insertion and
  • assisting in running antenatal clinics

Dr Barry says-
“We train, train, train ALL levels of health staff (nurses, midwives, community health workers, nurses aids) at each health centre in Obstetric Emergencies and Neonatal Resuscitation so they are skilled at treating difficult deliveries and their complications. We train in the labour ward using sophisticated state of the art mannequins. We train all staff in neonatal resuscitation and management of haemorrhaging mothers.”

In fact from January through August 2017 THOR has trained 205 staff members in the 24 health centre they currently support!

This training helps reduce Maternal Deaths in Milne Bay by:

  • encouraging supervised deliveries,
  • up-skilling health staff through Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC) training in the health centre labour wards,
  • providing a mothers waiting house at health centres that currently don’t have one,
  • creating mother friendly labour rooms,
  • training staff in Jadelle contraceptive implant insertion, and
  • assisting in running antenatal clinics

UCF received a grant application for $3,200 which would fund-

  • a box (10) Kiwi OmniCups. Selected staff are trained in the use of the Kiwi OmniCup for mothers having a delayed second stage delivery. They are once use only in Australia but we wash, sterilize and reuse them (with approval from the inventor), despite this we only get 3-4 deliveries. ($1000 per box of 10)
  • build two “mothers’ waiting houses” for mothers who may have to walk for 8 or 10 hours to get to a health centre to deliver their baby. Estimated usage is around 70%. Some mothers will stay only one night and deliver and others may be there for a week before labour pains commence. We build traditional bush material waiting houses at all health centres so mothers attending from distant villages can come early and have a place to stay while waiting in confinement for the start of labour. These houses are usually 4 bedroom bush material houses which house 4 mothers at a time but we see 2-3 mothers on most visits using them. We have already constructed 17 waiting houses and some now need replacing. The bush material houses last about 5-7 years. ($600 each).

While this request was larger than most that UCF make, the directors chose to make a rare exception in this case to further the work of THOR in helping these mothers who have the courage to attend the health centres for an assisted birth.

Meanwhile… in November UCF was able to organise a gift of medicines including much needed antibiotics through a generous Star Pharmacy supplier and we’ve just received this photo of a delighted Kila opening the goodie box 🙂

Kila opening the boxes of antibiotics UCF were able to send with the generous support of Star Pharmacy and Apotex

 

THOR UPDATE – December 2017
My that was fast! Dr Barry has sent us a few photos of the two Mothers’ Waiting Houses that have been completed in Raba Raba and his trip to a couple of the health centres.

 

 

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