UTS Alumna transforming maternal health in youngest country
Following decades of war, South Sudan emerged from the conflict to become the world’s youngest country.
Since then, the country has struggled to provide adequate health care for its people due to severely damaged health services and a chronic shortage of trained health professionals.
However, UTS Alumna Annette Bennett is a pivotal part of this change.
Graduating in 2015 with a Master of Midwifery (Research), Annette is the Maternal Advisor to a humanitarian non-governmental organisation working in South Sudan. Her work is saving lives of mothers and newborns in Africa.
Last Friday, she delivered a seminar, Maternal Health Care in South Sudan, where she spoke about the challenges of providing basic health care in the world’s youngest country.
“This past year has been about transitioning the hospital from informally skilled staff to the formally skilled staff and about trying to change some of the traditional practices,” she said.
“We want to increase the numbers of professional staff but keep the traditional birth attendants to continue to build relationships with local women.”
Working in Maban County Hospital, the only functional hospital in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan, Annette constantly faces technical, cultural and social barriers – but she is encouraged by the progress she has witnessed.
“Some of the best feedback we have received has been about basic things – like handwashing,” she said
Professor Angela Dawson, who hosted the event, said that Annette’s seminar was “an eye-opening insight into the highs and the lows of the important lifesaving work that [she] does in South Sudan.”
“By engaging people in their own health care and helping them to take ownership of their health care services, the future looks bright.”
Congratulations Annette on your incredible achievements both in Australia and abroad, and for inspiring nurses and midwives everywhere.