From 2000 to 2017, there was a considerable fall in global maternal mortality, but the reduction is still half of what is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of less than 70. In Indonesia, maternal mortality stands at more than 260 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, and the distribution is uneven, with remote parts of the country and small islands accounting for higher numbers of deaths.
Two years ago, Prisca Zwanikken, a sexual and reproductive health and rights expert at KIT, provided a tailormade training in Indonesia entitled “Maternal & Neonatal Emergency Care system and Referral System in Islands to Improve Maternal and Neonatal Health” together with KIT’s advisor Bianca Tolboom and ICHD alumnus Ririn Wulandari.
This course was given to the teachers of Pangkalpinang polytechnic of Bangka island, a midwifery and nursing school. Part of the training entailed a field visit to a small island off the coast, where participants analysed the maternal and neonatal emergency care and referral system. Here many issues came to light, such as the prevalence of child marriage and teenage pregnancies, girls and women having no health insurance due to long administration procedures, and a lack of an organised referral system from Bangka to the main island. The training participants worked with the community to develop and put in place procedures and protocols to be used for smooth referral.
As a follow-up, Prisca recently presented on “Community Empowerment in Early Detection of Maternal Neonatal Emergency Care.” in an online seminar. The seminar, organised by the polytechnic, attracted 5,000 attendees, such as midwifery and nursing students, lecturers, government officials, and even participants from as far away as Sri Lanka and Australia.
The discussion focussed mainly on how to maintain community engagement, and how to deal with traditional beliefs in a community, with the need for research into how non-harmful practices need to be dealt with and why people still use them. Other facilitators covered the subject of how to deal with COVID-19 as a midwife during the epidemic, such as the precautions needed as a midwife during pregnancy control and delivery, the risk of pregnant women getting COVID-19, and the consequences if they are infected.
The seminar was widely appreciated and a successful example of how online training can overcome barriers and borders and how learning can continue even during a pandemic.