On the first day of her first patrol, the new doctor on the ADI team was faced with managing one of the most stress inducing obstetric situations: a breech (backwards) delivery, in a first time teenage mum who was a month early.
Thankfully Dr Belinda was well supported by HEO Betty and Sister Evini, and the baby was born without major complications. It required some assistance by Dr Belinda to breathe in the first few moments of its life, which provided an opportunity to demonstrate to the local staff.
Although, this story has a relatively happy ending with healthy mum and bub, it highlights the growing incidence of teenage pregnancies in the country, the risks to mothers and their babies, and the need for effective family planning and community education.
Dr Belinda examining Joshua, the baby she assisted to be born. His teenage Mum looks on, having just received family planning advice and an implant from Family Planning Officer Sister Eileen.
Lovangi North New Ireland August 2016.
In a hastily erected “clinic’ in the village of Patapai, a young Mum had heard there was a health team visiting so brought her seriously ill, one week old baby. The Patrol Team sprung into action, simultaneously coordinating resuscitation of the baby and emergency evacuation to Kavieng Hospital, a 2 hour boat ride away. Thanks to the rapid stabilisation of the infant, led by team doctor Dr Belinda, with assistance from other team members and the local community health care worker, the baby survived the ride to hospital and was discharged home several days later.
This baby was fortunate the ADI team were close by. In PNG 5.5% of babies will die before the age of 2, mostly due to vaccine preventable illnesses and treatable causes such as sepsis like in this child.