VBA Training Program

Caring for Kiriwina has run x 3 extremely successful Village Birth Attendant (VBA) Training Programs in April 2017, October 2018 and August 2019. The pandemic caused a gap of 3.5 years however we have now had a reporting trip in April 2023 and intend to go back for a training trip in August 2023. We are always planning and fundraising for our next trip. As soon as the borders open we will be back. Please donate!!!

1. Maternal and Infant Health

In rural PNG the mortality rate in childbirth is 1:7, with a maternal mortality rate of 1 in every 120 live births. The need for aid here is great. From the first 100 Birthing Kits that were distributed we saw a significant reduction in both maternal deaths and infant deaths. Currently for the approx. 90,000 Kiriwinans on the Island there is NO Doctor and the two trained Midwives have recently retired.

Caring for Kiriwina distributes birthing Kits across the Island and to surrounding remote Islands. We also distribute torches, warm clothing and aspirators.

  • Each Birthing Kit  includes a Birth Certificate form, as birth records are not officially kept by the PNG Government.
  • The Village Birth Attendants (VBAs), who make use of the Birthing Kits, require training in the use of the Kits and we are additionally fundraising to organise trainers from Australia to provide free training for these volunteers, once we all become COVID safe. 
  •  We are raising funds to allow two Kiriwinan women chosen by the VBA and Kiriwinan community to embark on an intensive three year Midwife training course at the POM SDA University. We need to raise approx. 65K in funding for the full three year course including accommodation and food. A very big commitment by all involved. We are researching shorter and more cost effective ways to allow a selection of VBA’s to continue to train.

Birth Statistics

  • The burden of the majority of maternal deaths taking place in PNG falls in the poorest and remote locations such as Kiriwina. Lack of access to and low uptake of skilled attendance during childbirth is a major factor associated with maternal deaths (WHO, 2005 Make Every Mother and Child Count, World Health Report, WHO. Geneva.)
  • When outlining the statistics it is worth clarifying that the maternal and perinatal mortality rates have varied widely over the past three decades and there is little vital registration of births and deaths in PNG and probably even less so on the in the Milne Bay Province and the island of Kiriwina. In short the maternal death rates are likely to be under reported in this area. (ref Mola,G and Kirby,B.2013. Discrepencies between national mortality data and international estimates: the experience of Papua New Guinea. Reproductive Health Matters. Elsevier.)
  • In preparation for the journey to Kiriwina Shea and Jacqui identified through their research that women’s groups can dramatically reduce the number of maternal and newborn deaths in some of the world’s poorest communities. Shea and Jacqui utilised this information in the training by incorporating role playing and encouraging discussion of the local issues. Shea’s work with the Aboriginal community throughout Australia gave a strong platform for the aim of the education in Kiriwina with the main aim to give women information, confidence in decision making and encouraging support from families and the community.
  • We developed culturally specific resource material printed in the Kiriwinan language as lanyards for the participants including Tips for Healthy Pregnancy;  Tips For Healthy Birth; Warning Signs in Pregnancy; Warning Signs in Labour and Birth; Warning Signs After Birth and Warning Signs for Baby.
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Caring for Kiriwina Village Birth Attendant Training in October 2018: Intrepid CFK midwives; Jacqui Andrews and Shea Caplice in action with Midwife Bokowau translating.

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At Losuia Health Centre Office in October pictured from left: Health Officer Ridley Mwaisiga, CFK Midwife Jacqui Andrews, Front: Midwife Bokawa, behind Raymond. CFK Midwife Shea Caplice, Losuia Health Centre Nurse Meisy Mwaisiga and Jodi Lawton.

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The Village Birth Attendant Training Project is supported by the Australian Government and implemented by Caring for Kiriwina.

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Thanks again to all our donors for your ongoing support!

E-news below from our October 2019 VBA Training Trip

The Right People for the Right Jobs!!!!

Our team of four CFK dimdims (white persons!) have safely returned from another challenging but successful trip to Kiriwina.  While the main focus of the visit was to provide training support for the Village Birth Attendants (VBAs), we also gained first hand feedback on the results of some of our other aid programs.  Such feedback is vital for CFK to ensure outcomes are being achieved, and learn how these programs can be improved to ensure ongoing CFK work continues to be as effective as possible.

Following on from our theme for this newsletter, the right people in the right roles, we are extremely grateful to our two exceptional midwife educators Shea Caplice and Jacqui Andrews for volunteering their services yet again for their third trip to Kiriwina in three years.

This visit in September 2019 to provide educational support for the VBAs on Kiriwina provided an initial session over several days of more intense and focussed teaching with a small group of 24 VBAs on primary health care.  This was followed by a larger group of around 200 VBA participants in the second half of the week.  Issues covered included family planning and assisting with normal births, what to do when a baby is not breathing or when the mother bleeds excessively after birth. The support sessions also provided an opportunity for the VBAs to practice skills that they learned and be assessed on those skills in a supportive environment.  Specific objectives included:

  • VBAs will be able to demonstrate the correct clean and safe way to assist at the birth of a baby using the birth kit.
  • VBA will demonstrate the correct way to rub the fundus and apply external bimanual compression to stop bleeding after delivery.
  • VBA will demonstrate essential newborn care and simple resuscitation puffing air into the lungs via the nose/mouth.
  •  VBAs will show how they will provide some education younger VBAs including why family planning is important, healthy eating during pregnancy, danger signs, visiting the Health Centre for check-ups and planning for birth.

We also discussed hygiene of self, home, family and village, showed videos on the spread of disease, and outlined the seven cleans needed for assisting at birth. Our educational support sessions get better each time and the most positive thing is the VBAs coming together and wanting to learn.

Thanks to Midwives educator extraordinaire Shea Caplice and Jacqui Andrews.

Our CFK programs have been expanded this year as a direct consequence of funding provided through the Australian DFAT Friendship Grant, for which the Kiriwinan people acknowledge and say thank you Australia!  CFK also acknowledges our on-going support base of volunteers including the students at St Vincent’s College, Sydney, UNSW Faculty of Health and Yarralumla Uniting Church.  We are grateful also to our on-island supporters for the success of this recent trip, in particular the Oyabia United Church for providing logistical support and the use of the church hall to conduct our training support for the 200+ attendees.  Kamatokisi kwaiveka, as they say.