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The Hospital Research Foundation’s (THRF) Healthy Newborn Project is well underway, dedicated to training healthcare professionals from across remote Australia in antenatal care to save the lives of mothers and babies in rural communities.

Pioneering this project is Dr Nayana Parange, Professor Eva Bezak and their team from the University of South Australia, who in February and March this year held two workshops in Adelaide for doctors and midwives from across the country to learn how to conduct point of care ultrasound.

“An antenatal ultrasound can be lifesaving but at the moment not everyone is receiving at least one ultrasound during pregnancy – as health guidelines recommend – because of a lack of equipment and a lack of staff trained to use it,” Dr Parange said.

Thanks to THRF’s generous community, this is all about to change! Over 20 healthcare professionals came from all parts of rural and remote Australia including Clare, Barmera, Port Augusta and Nganampa in the Northern Territory to take part in the two workshops.

Now equipped with their new skills these doctors and midwives have returned to their hometowns to help the many mothers in their community who are unable to access the most basic care for their unborn child.

Dr Parange and her team have kick-started the next phase of the project where they will conduct a needs analysis survey to provide data around access to antenatal ultrasound scans in rural and remote communities across Australia. With an honours student now on board to support the project, the team are hopeful their findings could see policy development in this crucial area.

This is what some of the workshop participants had to say:

“The simulators were an excellent resource as it allowed me to practice without worrying about a real life patient as well as see many different scenarios. Thank you very much, I found it to be an informative and engaging workshop that will help my practice.”

“Ultrasound is such a critical skill to have these days especially rural and remote. It’s another one of those diagnostic aids that you need to have around you to help you manage someone who may be difficult to manage.”

“Currently I’m the only midwife in my community. We are not a delivery site so women have to go to other towns to have their babies. This means they need to travel between 400 and 700km when they are around 37 weeks pregnant and stay in those communities to deliver their baby.  This workshop was invaluable.”