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Midwife passes on skills in Rwanda

johanna white
CHALLENGING: Midwife Johanna White is travelling to Rwanda with World Vision.

Dealing with death is part of the job for Wellington's Johanna White, who will travel to Africa this month to train staff at a birthing centre.

The 27-year-old midwife will spend six months near Rwanda's capital, Kigali, working on a World Vision maternal and child project.

"One in 35 mothers die giving birth and one in every 10 children don't make it to school age," she said.

Ms White will initially train 12 birth attendants.

"There is one attendant per shift at the hospital and they are dealing with up to four births a shift so that's a lot of responsibility."

Not having a neonatal team to call on when things go wrong was a scary prospect, she said.

"The reality in New Zealand is that a fear of dying is not something a woman needs to think about when giving birth."

After three years working as a midwife in the capital and having never lived anywhere else, Ms White is expecting plenty of challenges: "I know a bit of French and I'm hoping that will improve while I'm there. English is meant to be one of the main languages, but French is more common and I doubt in the time I'm there I'll be able to pick up much African-Rwandan."

Interpreters will assist her during the training programmes, which will extend to as many as 90 community workers.

"The idea is that what I teach is sustainable and I leave having up-skilled as many people as possible who can pass that knowledge on.

"It's very basic stuff that I'll be teaching around monitoring labour progress, stopping bleeding and follow-up care."

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- The Dominion Post

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