Research program targets maternal and child health
THE Burnet Institute of Medical Research officially launched a five-year research program called Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies in East New Britain in June 2015.
The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) is a collaborative research for development project by Burnet Institute, an Australian based organisation and local partners such as the PNG Institute of Medical Research (PNG IMR), East New Britain Provincial Government, NDoH, the UPNG School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Church Health Services in the province.
This is highly relevant to Burnet’s work to improve health services as part of the HMHB project which not only targets the need to improve health services but also the quality of care provided.
The HMHB research program will run in five health centres in the province. These are Nonga Base Hospital, St Mary’s Vunapope District Hospital, Kerevat Rural Hospital, Napapar and Paparatava Health Centres.
Because of their background working in ENB and their good partnerships with the ENB Provincial Health Authority (PHA) and the Church Health Agencies in the provinces, Burnet decided to implement the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Research Program in East New Britain first.
Burnet will work with local health services for mothers and babies especially in rural hospitals and clinics that provide care during pregnancy, childbirth and the first months of a baby’s life.
This research program is really good as it will help us to establish health issues related to mothers and children and to ease the burden of infant mortality, said Health Secretary for Catholic Health Services (ENB) Moses Bogandri.
“It is an honour to have Burnet conducting their research at some of the Catholic Health facilities in the province and we will continue to assist them wherever necessary.”
Burnet Institute wears two hats one involved in medical research and the other as an international non-governmental organisation (NGO).
As an NGO, they focus on running small scale programs especially on Reproductive Health, Mother and Child Health, Malaria, Tuberculosis and they also work with the government to train volunteers for different health programs.
“The research involved in Healthy Mother’s, Health Babies includes doing awareness on nutrition, hygiene and general health with mothers before, during and after pregnancy and collecting blood species of mothers and babies,” said Dr Chris Morgan from the Burnet Institute.
Existing health services data will be documented to assist local staff in identifying areas for improvement.
Not only that but it will also provide an opportunity for PNG clinical staff to develop research skills to undertake small research activities with support from Burnet’s public health researchers.
The two major needs to be addressed based on Burnets work in the province and with local health staff are:
1. Testing better ways to provide interventions of proven effectiveness to communities that currently lack access and;
2. defining the major disease burdens that contribute to maternal and infant mortality such as anaemia, malaria, malnutrition and postpartum haemorrhage.
“Research and development must go together. And we want to build the capacity of the health staff through this program,” Dr Morgan said.
He added that this was the first attempt by Burnet Institute to set out a reserach site and even though Kokopp was small, it was a stable place to do research.
“We hope to do this program in other provinces as well,” he said.
Through Health Mothers, Healthy Babies, Burnet aims to help build PNG’s health and medical research capabilities, strengthen the health services in East New Britain and assist local communities develop the capacity to understand and respond to their health needs.
Back ground information for this story was taken from Burnet Institute’s Winter 2015 newsletter, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies June 2015 Newsletter. and an interview with Dr Morgan in ENB.