It is not a common sight for a man from Hela or Highlands culture to be a midwife and deliver babies because it is seen as a woman’s job says 23 years old Gilbert Gei from Hela Province, who is the only male recipient of one of the 10 scholarships provided by the United Nations Population Fund Country Office to the University of Goroka’s Midwifery School.
Mr Gei said he had seen firsthand the importance of a midwife and the role they play in saving a mother and a baby’s life.
Mr. Gilbert Gei completed his nursing studies at Goroka Nursing College, Eastern Highlands Province in 2020 and returned to his home province, Hela, to work in one of the most remote district hospitals.
“I worked in the Labour Ward at Magarima District Hospital,” shared Mr Gei. “In a month, we would have 18-25 births and about 7-10 of these deliveries would have complications.”
“As a nurse without a midwifery specialisation, I performed vacuum delivery four times and one bridge delivery.”
“All I was able to perform successfully was from watching our in-house midwife.”
Mr Gei added that just by watching and learning was not enough, and he made the decision to become a midwife because there is a gap at the district hospital that he felt he could fill.
“The lone midwife we had at our district hospital, unfortunately, passed away and there was a huge void that she left.” “I was doing a midwife’s job with no technical knowledge and proper skills for what I was doing. I knew in my heart that I had to become a midwife because there were so many mothers and babies dependent on me.”
Mr. Gei was accepted into the midwifery course at the University of Goroka as a self-sponsored student, which meant he had to pay his K37, 000 tuition fees, for his 18-months training straight from his own pocket.
“I enrolled myself with only K5, 000, knowing very well that my future in this training was uncertain and I even prepared myself to withdraw knowing my financial limitations.”
“But now I am extremely grateful to UNFPA for this important scholarship.”
“It could not have come at a better time. I cried for joy when Sr. Clerah, the Midwifery Coordinator, advised me of this scholarship and that was 1 of 10 students receiving it.”
“There is so much I can do as a midwife and I look forward to successfully completing my studies so I can go back and help my mothers in Komo-Magarima.”
UNFPA provided 10 financial scholarships to midwifery students from the University Of Goroka School Of Midwifery in its ambitious goal to reduce and eliminate maternal deaths in Papua New Guinea. According to UNFPA’s State of the World Midwifery report, PNG needs a minimum of 5000 qualified midwives, but it is sad to know that currently the country has less than 800.
Meanwhile UNFPA Country Representative Marielle Sander has urged for investment in the midwifery workforce for the country to change the statistics on maternal mortality.