Honoring PNGIMR nurses
Today we feature one of the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research’s outstanding research nurses and midwives as a celebration of 2020’s International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Follow us over the next few weeks for more profiles.
Jonah Moza is a nurse who dreams of saving people who are sick or dying from communicable diseases, especially those living in the remote areas in the country. He is attached with the Malaria Control Project (MalCon) funded by the Global Fund grant to PNG. MalCon comes under the Population Health and Demography Unit located at the PNGIMR headquarters in Goroka.
The project is responsible for carrying out country-wide malaria surveys. Jonah does finger pricks, runs tests for malaria using the Rapid Diagnostic Test kit, measures haemoglobin levels, checks the spleens of children aged 2-9 years old, treats positive malaria cases and refers very ill people to the nearest health facility.
He says, “Being a nurse is a lovely profession. People turn to you because they trust you. When they are okay, they thank you over and over and you realise that you have saved a life.”
One of his highlights from working at MalCon was assisting a colleague who became sick while on duty travel.
Jonah works almost every day in remote parts of the country. He has seen that they have no proper health services. He encourages the government to build more health facilities and assign nurses to those areas.
Daniel Avei Hosea
Mr. Daniel Avei Hosea is a research nurse-midwife. He has a diploma in General Nursing from the Highlands Regional College of Nursing (HRCN). After working for Salvation Army in a rural area in the Kainantu District of Eastern Highlands Province (EHP), Hosea went on to specialize in midwifery under an AusAid scholarship at the University of Goroka. He is currently with the PNGIMR project- Woman And Newborn Trial of Antenatal Intervention and Management (WANTAIM) project in Kokopo, East New Britain.
WANTAIM aims to measure the effectiveness, health systems requirement, cost-effectiveness, and acceptability of antenatal point of care testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and genital infections to improve birth outcomes in high-burden low-income settings. Its primary objective is to evaluate whether the point of care testing and immediate treatment of curable STIs in pregnancy leads to a reduction in preterm birth and low birth weight compared to standard antenatal care.
When asked what or who inspired Hosea to take up a profession in health, he said working in the health field is uncommon in his family. But growing up, his father told him that his grandfather worked as an Aid post orderly (APO) back in the colonial days. He worked with the medical team at Gemo Island in Port Moresby, treating TB and Leprosy patients. He also worked as a lab officer. Hosea remembers seeing photos of his grandfather looking into a microscope. Sadly, since he grew up in EHP he did not get to know his grandfather well before his grandfather passed on, so the stories that his father told him are the memories that inspired him. Although his grandfather’s line of work is different from what Hosea does today, Hosea believes the passion of working towards achieving optimal health for a patient is very much alike. He also chose nursing when he noticed his mother giving special care when he or his siblings got ill. She would make you feel like all that fever and pain would go away like magic. Specializing in midwifery was triggered when he saw mothers facing complications and wanted to help minimize such issues.
With the WANTAIM project, his responsibilities include: conducting participant recruitment and clinic-based follow-ups, doing informed consent, clinical interviews, obstetric procedures, collecting biological specimens as specified in the study protocol and study-specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and conducting post-natal visits and measurements of study endpoints within 72 hours of birth for participants who have delivered their babies.
For this passionate research nurse, the highlight of working with the PNGIMR WANTAIM project is in taking part in a study that has not done in PNG before. He saw the first phase of the trial completed successfully when the total required number of women (participants) in all five clinics reached. He is proud that two babies were named after him by participants from phase one and phase two of the study.
Hosea encounters challenges by being a male dealing with women’s issues in PNG where culturally it is a norm for only women to handle other women’s issues; despite this, he continues to support women through their pregnancy and labour.
He also notices the absence of males during the pregnancy and labour journey of mothers. He hopes his presence encourages men to follow their partners to antenatal checks and especially during labour.
Hosea says, “Working as a research nurse-midwife is worthwhile because the work that you do will have significant influence in the way patients are assessed and procedures are carried out. It also gives you the upper hand in understanding how things are done and to help make room for change to occur. Additionally, a career as a research nurse allows you to travel to places and learn different things. Finally, research nurses interact with participants; you get to review them at scheduled visits and assess their progress compared to what the study anticipates. When you know your participants are benefiting from the study, that is very satisfying. But the job is not the same for all, and it always challenges you to do better.”
Hosea concludes that being a nurse or a midwife is rewarding and sometimes difficult. Taking part in research helps nurses and midwives learn what kind of health care is best. Not all stories of women and their babies have happy endings. Sad endings help us understand what is needed to improve. Hosea also would like to encourage his colleagues to keep up the great spirit in whatever they do and put God first.
Sharon Warel is a midwife serving at the PNGIMR site in Madang with the Women and Newborn Trial of Antenatal Interventions and Management (WANTAIM) project that is evaluating the point of care, testing, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to improve birth outcomes. She does 1st & 2nd trimester gestational age ultrasound scanning.
Her motivation for becoming a midwife was her first-time delivery to an antenatal mum who had a motor vehicle accident. From then on, she knew she wanted to help mothers and babies.
Working with the WANTAIM trial project has been a highlight of her career. “It has always been a dream to work with ground-breaking research,” she said. “I am thankful to God for such an opportunity.”
Through WANTAIM, she went on her first trip overseas to Melbourne, Australia to learn how to do to gestational age ultrasound scanning. She is grateful to WANTAIM for its commitment to train clinical staff. “It was an overwhelming excitement to travel and learn something new.” She has passed on her knowledge to other staff in the project and even had the opportunity to travel to Kokopo.
Sharon can detect multiple pregnancies; transverse lie, breech presentations, placenta previa, and foetal death in the uterus and refer pregnant women to get specialized medical treatment and management as early as possible. Such skills are necessary to reduce the maternity mortality rate in Papua New Guinea and therefore achieving the 3rd Sustainable Development Goal targets for maternal health.
WANTAIM’s Senior Clinical Trial Coordinator Dr Michaela Riddell praised Sharon. She said, “Sharon is a fantastic member of our team, operating in a senior team member role”.
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