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Collaboration key to improving perinatal mortality in Bali

By Leanne Miles

Dr Virginia Skinner with Cynthia Riris from Polytechnik, Denpasar Dr Virginia Skinner with Cynthia Riris from Polytechnik, Denpasar

A group of midwifery staff and students has travelled to the Indonesian island of Bali as part of a learning and relationship-building experience, visiting remote clinics and local hospitals.

With alarming levels of perinatal mortality in Indonesia, Charles Darwin University midwifery course co-ordinator and senior lecturer Dr Virginia Skinner has been working to build collaborative educational and research initiatives.

“There is such a disparity between our two countries and the division of services, with increasing numbers of maternal and neonatal deaths in Indonesia,” Dr Skinner said. “With 35 million births per year, most women give birth in remote village settings, with only high-risk cases transferred to hospital. In some cases women live too remotely for this transfer to occur in time.

“We are working to promote collaborative educational and research initiatives between CDU and the Midwifery Department Denpasar Polytechnic of Health and Kardini Akademie located in Denpasar.”

Second Year Midwifery students Rhylee Mathias and Freya Martin met with Indonesian midwifery students to share information on experiences of study and work practices.

“It was a really interesting experience to see how a maternity system works in another country, especially one so close such as Indonesia,” Freya said.

“Visiting a local clinic was really amazing; there are some big differences both culturally and with resources. We were really surprised to learn that in Indonesia most women give birth in healthcare clinics with almost no pain relief. This is in stark contrast to Australia, where most women birth in a hospital with a range of choices.”

Rhylee said it was interesting to learn that the role of midwives also differed between countries due to resources availability and population size.

“In Bali midwives play a major role in educating the community about family planning and contraception, as well as providing basic hygiene and nutrition information,” Rhylee said. “Here our role is more specific to midwifery.”

Dr Skinner said that collaborative initiatives such as exchanges and information-sharing exercises with CDU were important to help to build capacity in Indonesia.