Helping Samoan women give birth safely

Associate Professor Andrew Bisits, from the Royal Hospital for Women in Australia was one of the instructors

APIA: A group of Australian health professionals has just completed a course in the management of maternity emergencies. The group consisted of doctors and midwives who volunteered their time and expertise to teach the three day course.

The training was designed to help Samoan doctors and midwives better handle emergencies that may arise during birth. Along with teaching theory, instructors used life-like mannequins to provide hands-on training.

Professor Pelenatete Stowers, ACEO for Nursing at the Ministry of Health said she hoped the course would result in better outcomes for mothers and their babies.

“This course will be particularly important for health professionals in Savai’i and rural areas, where there is not ready access to operating rooms and specialists,” Professor Stowers said.

“We have had cases previously where mothers were at risk of dying on the road to specialist care. The techniques learnt during this course will mean local doctors and midwives can manage birth complications or emergencies themselves at rural settings or they can stabilise the mother and baby until specialist help can be reached.”

Seven doctors and 19 nurse-midwives participated in the course. They were joined by two lecturers in midwifery at the National University of Samoa.

Mrs Asenati Tuilaepa, Senior Nurse Specialist at the Maternity Ward in Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital participated in the course.

“The course has helped us learn more about how to manage an emergency during birth. For example, we learnt how to safely deliver babies when shoulder dystocia occurs, which is when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck. There are a number of very useful techniques we learnt to help the baby come out safely,” Mrs Tuilaepa said.

The course was delivered by Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics, Asia Pacific (ALSO). It is a not for profit organisation providing courses in the management of obstetric emergencies.
Associate Professor Andrew Bisits, from the Royal Hospital for Women in Australia was one of the instructors.

“We have been teaching these courses in Australia for ages and now we want to export this knowledge to Asia and the South Pacific,” Professor Bisits said.

“The staff shortages in Samoan hospitals means it is important that each staff member has the maximum amount of skill to deal with difficult births.”

Funding to support the course in Samoa was provided by AusAID, the World Bank and NZAid.