Midwife’s skills help reduce deaths overseas

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Julie Dockrill in a hospital in Mongolia, and below, with Mid Canterbury Provincial Rural Women president Marion Dent ahead of her talk at the annual meeting.

Ashburton Hospital maternity unit manager Julie Dockrill has set up the framework that has helped reduce morbidity and mortality rates in Mongolian women and children.

A midwife for over 20 years and involved in health care for over 30 years, she has travelled to the remote country three times since 2013 to set up a comprehensive childbirth education programme.

Maternal deaths during childbirth in the country are now down 50-55 per cent and neo natal deaths down 60 per cent.

Mrs Dockrill was the guest speaker at the recent Mid Canterbury Provincial Rural Women annual meeting and shared her journey with delegates.

She told the gathering that there had been “humps and bumps and laughs and tears” along the way.

Her last trip to Mongolia had been in 2018 and now the focus had shifted to Nepal, another country that was well behind when it came to childbirth education.

A scoping trip to Nepal in 2019 had gone well and another had been planned this year, before Covid-19 had struck.

She said both projects involved giving health care workers the skills to teach childbirth education.

It used a train the trainer approach and best practice.

“The aim of the project is to save lives, save money and making women, children and families stronger.”

Mrs Dockrill said education was a powerful tool, but you needed to engage both those at the top and those at the bottom to get results.

A letter to the Mongolian president explaining the project in its early phase had received a positive reply and later new pregnancy benefit legislation had been passed that now encouraged childbirth education.

The childbirth manual developed has been endorsed and adopted as the nationwide standardized training curriculum for maternal and infant care in Mongolia.

Mrs Dockrill has been part of a team of medical professionals travelling to Mongolia through the Maternal Child Health Project, which has received support from Rotary.

Some 15 resource education packs, each costing $2500, and containing resources used to help deliver childbirth education, have been distributed.

Mrs Dockrill has a rural background and has worked in the maternity unit at Ashburton Hospital for the last three years.

-By Mick Jensen