Tuesday, 17 September 2013

What a week!

Time is flying so fast.  Haven't posted since Friday and so much has happened since then. We've been here a week and the days are getting busier and busier as we had towards our flights out on Friday.  I'm going onto Cambodia and there has been civil unrest there this week after July's elections, so I'm keeping a careful eye on the FCO website and keeping in close touch with friends in Phnom Penh - won't be taking any risks so don't worry about me!  Gillian will be flying home and I know Nepal will now hold a very special place in her heart - this trip has been full of wonderful, memorable moments making us very proud to be playing a part in developing the midwifery profession here.

The first ever midwifery conference in Nepal was a resounding success.  We both gave opening and closing speeches, and other presentations besides.  There were approximately 300 delegates and MIDSON did an amazing job of organising the conference - from registration packs, badges, freebie bags, certificates, trophies, souvenir publications... incredible to think that they have only been in existence as an organisation

 for 3 years.  It was one of the best organised conferences I have even been to!  The message was given loud and clear - Nepal needs midwives.  Midwives save lives.   Work together to change the law to allow midwives to be registered with a protected title. Finish developing educational standards that meet international standards and the country context in Nepal.  Be brave, make it happen without delay, and support the midwifery society.

Tracy, one of the GMTP Volunteer Midwives, arriving at the conference
Our fabulous Delicia giving an inspiring closing speech at the midwifery conference

Now the conference is over, our Project Adminstrator Delicia has been helping MIDSON finish up,writing letters of thanks and settling finances, plus gathering information for our next report.   
Gillian and I have been meeting stakeholders, visiting hospitals where our volunteers have been working, gathering data to evaluate project progress to date, and making plans for the future of the project.  Today we toured Thaphatali Womens' and Children's Hospital (20,000 deliveries per year) where Gillian was able to donate lots of knitted baby clothes, handmade by Grannies in Scotland!
Gillian donating knitted baby clothes in the Kangaroo care ward
Dad in the Kangaroo-care ward having some lovely skin to skin time with his lovely baby - and modelling the Scottish Grannies' hand-knits!
We met with the Matrons, took tea with the Assistant Hospital Director, visited the medical library and then spent some time in the birth centre where Gillian saw her first birth for 18 years and wept buckets at the joy of it :)  We rejoiced in seeing the small but significant changes that our programme is making through the influence of midwife volunteers from the UK: screens around the beds for privacy, encouraging women to mobilise in labour, a relatively clean environment, delivering in a (sort-of!) upright position, no episiotomy performed even though the woman was a primigravida, and - most important of all - some kindness and compassionate care.
Birthing woman in an upright position, supported by her mother, with screens around the bed
This woman had triplets by normal delivery - no caesarean section!  Two head down, one breech.  The babies are still in SCBU but Gillian was able to give her 3 hats and 3 cardigans for when they're finally reunited with Mum

Cuties on the post natal ward
We also visited the very impressive one-stop crisis management centre in the hospital where women are referred (or self refer) with domestic abuse, rape, crisis pregnancy or other difficult situations.  Staff at the women's hospital work with police, social services, housing and others to find refuge and solutions for such women. 
We then had a very fruitful meeting at the Ministry of Health and Population with the Public Health Chief and Chief Nurse, advocating for midwives and the midwives association and encouraging the ministry to act without delay.  Also asked them if they will sponsor a midwife to attend the ICM Congress in Prague in June 2014.
After lunch at the Nepal Nursing Assocation, Gillian attended a UNFPA workshop and I went to interview Ishwori, Nepal's Chief Nurse and Registrar at the Nursing Council.  Had a slightly embarrassing moment when I fell asleep on the sofa!  The evening finished with a meeting of the Perinatal Society of Nepal, hearing about UNICEF's new programme to reduce neonatal mortality and the Nepal country plan.  Responded to one of the presentations with a recommendation that Midwives will meet many of the needs in the country plan and got a standing ovation!  They laid on a lovely supper then I returned to the hotel around 9.30 to have a cuppa with Gillian and Delicia before retiring to my room to deal with e mails and write the blog.
Meeting the Public Health Chief (second from right) and Chief Nurse (rar right) at the Ministry of Health and Population


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