Living Child

Living Child

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Recipient Summary

Project: Village Birthing Huts and Training Project

Living Child has received a 100 Women grant for the construction and fit out of five Village Birthing Huts, the development of local language training materials and travel and training costs for Village Birth Attendants.

The Village Birthing Huts and Training project responds to a request from the local health authority to improve local maternity services via the building and fit out of stand-alone birthing huts in five remote villages in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The birthing huts will offer a clean space for labour and birth and will provide lifesaving training to local village birth attendants (VBAs) and advanced training of exceptional VBA leaders. The aim of the project is to reduce maternal and infant death rates in remote villages in PNG.

Who is Living Child?
Living Child is a midwifery-led not-for-profit that partners with East Sepik Provincial Health Authority (ESPHA) to provide maternal, newborn, child, reproductive, sexual and adolescent health education, training and resources to improve the health of women and girls in remote areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Living Child’s vision is for women to be able to choose when and how many children they have, to be able to give birth safely and for their children to have every opportunity to thrive. Living Child works to strengthen community-led development through woman-to-woman peer groups and local activities that educate men to empower women and girls. All projects are initiated and led by local people.

Village Birth Attendant helping a new mother

What project will a 100 Women grant support?
The Village Birthing Huts and Training Project will provide quality services to pregnant women by working with local communities to build and fit out five locally appropriate and sustainable birthing huts and to provide essential, appropriate, in-language training to VBAs, and advanced training to exceptional VBA leaders. The focus of VBA training is to improve knowledge and skills so that they can educate women and girls about family planning, care during pregnancy, labour and birth, care of the newborn, establishing breastfeeding, recovery from the birth and adjusting to motherhood.

Who is the project for?
• 50 Village Birthing Attendants will receive evidence-based training to save the lives of mothers and babies – supporting 25 villages
• 12 exceptional VBA leaders to be trained to continue educating others
• 12,500 women and girls will receive education about pregnancy and birth and sexual health issues from the VBAs
• 25,000 villagers will benefit from improvements in maternal and child health.

Why is the project needed?
There are few health services reaching remote village people where 85% of the PNG population lives, even less now due to the impacts of the COVID pandemic. Maternal and neonatal mortality rates are high, especially in East Sepik Province. The training of VBAs has made a positive difference to health outcomes for the communities and the project is needed to consolidate and continue those outcomes as well as extended the skills of VBAs with leadership potential to ensure more capability in emergency situations and to train the future workforce.

Why is the Village Birthing Huts and Training project the best option?

Living Child provides midwife-led, evidence-based education that is culturally appropriate and that meets the language and literacy needs of the PNG community. In 2021, LC conducted focus group discussions with 15 VBAs to further understand the needs of the community. They gave feedback regarding LC training for VBAs and identified several areas of need such as lighting, clean water and equipment to assist during births in the village, especially at night.

In 2020/21, LC worked in partnership with Yamen village to build a birthing hut. The community provided labour, coordinated the project and sourced many supplies. The project is benefitting the entire community and has generated a high level of enthusiasm and engagement. It has strengthened the relationship between the community, VBAs and the maternal and child health team at the referral health centre at Angoram, bringing long term benefits health services in this remote area and contributing to improving health outcomes for women and children.

Why is Living Child best placed to achieve success?

Living Child has worked closely with VBAs, health workers, community and government leaders in the remote District of Angoram for 10 years, building strong understanding, mutual trust and respect. Consequently, ESPA has invited LC to continue to provide training and formalised this relationship with an MOU.

What are the planned outcomes?
• Five birthing huts will be constructed in five different villages in the Keram area with essential equipment: solar lighting, rainwater tank, cleaning equipment, PPE and a supply of clean birth kits.
• 50 VBAs will have quality training using evidence-based, culturally appropriate methods to enable them to save lives of mothers and babies.
• 12 VBA leaders will be trained to continue educating VBAs in basic life-saving skills using training manuals, flipcharts and videos.
• 12,500 girls and women of childbearing age will receive education from VBAs in their villages regarding reproductive and sexual health issues including care in pregnancy and birth.