Subject: Extending hand of friendship in a most practical way - Midwives

Also: New spin on East Timor aid

The Courier

Extending hand of friendship in a most practical way

By Catherine Best

Friday, 28 May 2004

THEY comfort birthing mothers, placate anxious dads and juggle the daily demands of child birth. Now a group of Ballarat midwives is preparing for its biggest challenge yet - taking much needed expertise to one of the world's

most impoverished countries.

The midwives are part of a delegation travelling to Ballarat's friendship district of Ainaro in East Timor this weekend.

Between them the women have more than 100 years' midwifery experience.

But that doesn't stop them being daunted by the challenge ahead.

"It's just so far removed from what we do day to day," midwife Sue Blizzard said.

In a country where one in 10 newborns dies, the midwives' task is to impart the skills and knowledge that will make a difference.

The women will meet with midwives and birthing attendants in Dili and Ainaro, where they will distribute information kits.

For Ballarat Health Services Women and Children's Services manager Desley Beechey this is her second mission to East Timor.

"I hope they see that we are their true friendship city, that we've come with the best intentions and that we will come back to work on the needs that we identify," she said.

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Melbourne/Yarra Leader (Australia)

May 24, 2004 Monday

New spin on East Timor aid

By Rachel Kleinman

HOSPITAL patients in East Timor will get better protection from infection after a cry for help to the Victorian Government.

Premier Steve Bracks told the Leader last week that the government would spend about $100,000 on industrial washing machines for use at Dili National Hospital in East Timor's capital city.

The announcement coincided with East Timor's second birthday on May 20, two years after its official declaration of independence from Indonesia.

The donation of washing machines was sparked by a hospital visit by Mr Bracks and Richmond Labor MP Richard Wynne last year.

The Leader also highlighted the plight of East Timor's health services after visiting Dili National Hospital last October.

Patients encountered mosquito-infested wards, old medical equipment and rusting beds and there was a chronic shortage of trained medical staff.

Hospital administrator Antonio Caleres Junior told the Premier a lack of proper laundry facilities was a health risk to patients.

He said the hospital did not have enough machines to deal with all the medical staff's clothing and bed linen, causing a high risk of reinfection among patients.

Mr Wynne said last week the government would invite tenders for a distributor to supply the industrial machines, which are made overseas.

"They are in direct response to our visit last year," Mr Wynne said.

"These machines will go a long way to help improve hygiene at the hospital."

The successful tenderer would ship the machines to Dili, service the machines and train East Timor hospital workers to maintain them.

Mr Bracks said he hoped the machines would be installed by the second half of this year.


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