News: Letter from the field (5 months)

Sally Johnson and Ben Kildea, from Brisbane QLD, are coordinating Field Based Midwifery, Primary Care and Public Health in Maliana, Timor-Leste for the Timor-Leste Ministry of Health in partnership with the Rotary Club of Morialta.

In June the Ministry of Health had a huge Immunisation campaign which the field team was able to help with almost every day. This was a great opportunity for Sally to finally use some of her nursing skills even if it was just to make a lot of babies and young women cry! The DHS sent many teams out all over the district for two weeks to try and cover as much of the population as possible. In July, Sally has been working most days out in the community helping with SISCas. This has been a great way for her to support Frances and the research team as well supporting the midwives and other health staff and getting to know the individual communities.

Also in June Sally, Ben, Cacilda and Lily (one of the research assistants) finally made it to Lolotoe (one of the most remote subdistricts) to visit the CHC and help with the Immunization campaign. We have been trying to visit each of the CHC’s but our workloads and the distances have made it difficult. Lolotoe was beautiful and definitely worth the long and treacherous road.

Ben and Sally in Maliana
This week Sally was invited to a meeting with the midwives from throughout the district and another NGO Marie Stopes International. In this meeting we examined the indicators for Safe Motherhood in the district and it came out that Bobonaro District is performing below the national average in all areas measured. In an effort to improve this situation Rotary and SMI were each asked to visit three subdistricts on a regular basis to provide assistance with maternal child health activities. We are very happy with this development as we have been encouraging DHS to provide us with more structure. The subdistricts they have asked us to assist with are Cailaco, Maliana and Lolotoe. We would obviously have preferred it if Atabae were included as we have done so much work there but are happy to respect this indication of our community’s wishes.

Now that we are getting our bearings a bit more and the end of the building project is in sight, we would like to start looking at what activities we should be focusing on over the next eighteen months. In collaboration with DHS and the IMOG management team and using the information which will come out of the Community Assessment Research we can come up with a plan to ensure that our work in 2010 is as effective as possible in addressing the maternal child health needs of the Bobonaro District. Palms assures us that patience with processes such as these is important and that the beauty of the long placement that we are undertaking is that there is time to gather information, build relationships and plan together with the community. They say that the best work always happens in the second year.

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