Australia is training 450 midwives, nurses and community health workers in 2014 to help Papua New Guinea address its health workforce shortage. The Australia Government has announced the young Papua New Guineans from across the nation receiving the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships. Minister (Development Cooperation) at the Australian High Commission, Stuart Schaefer, today visited the Lutheran School of Nursing in Madang where 58 award recipients are starting or continuing studies. Mr Schaefer said the students who are studying nursing and midwifery are part of a major initiative by PNG and Australia to save lives. “Reducing maternal mortality is a top priority of Australia’s partnership for development with PNG,” Mr Schaefer said. “Australia is providing around1400 Awards from 2012 to 2015 for study in PNG in midwifery, nursing, community health work and education. “This is training up to 500 midwives which will result in an additional 8000 supervised births a year.” The Lutheran School of Nursing is a key partner in this initiative. Australia has supported a K1.9 million refurbishment of midwifery facilities at the institution including a lecture room, computer laboratory, clinical laboratory, staff offices and house for lecturers. Australia is refurbishing four midwifery schools and building a fifth school to expand capacity to train midwives in quality conditions. Australia also supports eight midwifery facilitators to work with the teachers and students to improve teaching quality and produce confident graduates. This year’s 450 young Award Scholarship recipients – who are mainly women from provinces outside the National Capital District – will study for Bachelor of Midwifery, Bachelor and Diploma in Nursing, and Certificate in Community Health Work qualifications. The Bachelor of Midwifery qualification is an intensive one-year degree targeted at young women from rural areas. An Awards graduate from 2012, Aiva Pikuri, from Eastern Highlands Province, is now working at the Goroka base hospital educating women about the importance of modern family planning, early antenatal attendance and supervised deliveries. “I want to use my skills and knowledge to help reduce the high rate of maternal and infant mortality in PNG,” Ms Pikuri said.
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