Midwifery capacity building in Papua New Guinea: Key achievements and ways forward

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women and Birth, 2016, 29 (2), pp. 180 - 188
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Australian College of Midwives. Background: Papua New Guinea has some of the poorest health outcomes in the Asia-Pacific region. Maternal mortality is unacceptably high and there is a severe midwifery shortage requiring a quadrupling of the workforce. Aim: This paper outlines the findings of an evaluation of the Maternal Child Health Initiative (MCHI) (2012-2013) to determine key factors contributing to maternal health workforce strengthening. Method: A descriptive mixed methods study was undertaken. Data were gathered through interviews, focus group discussions and surveys with clinicians, midwifery students and staff from nursing and midwifery schools and National Department of Health staff. Documentation from stakeholder meetings and regular site reports were reviewed. Each data set was analysed separately and meta-inferences were drawn across all data. Findings: Learning opportunities were found to have increased for midwifery educators and improvements were described in midwifery educators teaching capacity and student clinical education experience. There was an increase in the number of midwifery graduates and improvements were noted in the working environment and skills of clinical staff. Education challenges were described including the lack of clinical preceptoring and limited continuing education for clinical educators. Participants recommended increasing clinical education hours and extending the length of the midwifery program. Ongoing efforts to accredit the midwifery curricula and regulate midwifery graduates were noted. Conclusion: The MCHI has contributed to strengthening the midwifery workforce nationally. However, scaling-up and sustaining these achievements requires leadership and funding commitments from the midwifery schools and government alongside the accreditation of midwifery curricula and regulation of new graduates.
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