Newswise — On December 26, 2004, a pregnant woman clung to a mango tree as a tsunami devastated Aceh, Indonesia, and took the lives of her husband and four children along with the lives of over 100,000 others. Less than 12 hours later, trained midwife Bidan Mutia delivered the woman's healthy baby in the only shelter available, a closet. Bidan Mutia, mother and child all survived to tell their story to Dr. Leslie Mancuso, president and CEO of JHPIEGO, during her visit in Indonesia less than a month after the tragedy.

JHPIEGO, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, has had a major role in supporting the revitalization of the health care system in Aceh. JHPIEGO staff built a key partnership with the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Midwives Association (IBI) to reestablish midwifery services. According to the IBI, nearly 600 midwives from Aceh were killed, missing or lost their practices during the tsunami, representing a large portion of the health care practitioners in a region where midwives provide 80 to 90 percent of maternal and newborn care in both the public and private sector.

Immediately after the tsunami struck, JHPIEGO's Jakarta-based staff began assisting the IBI to relocate midwives from provinces throughout Indonesia to fill in the health service gaps in Aceh resettlement camps and the remaining health centers. Over 100 volunteers provided services for prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum, newborn care, immunizations and contraceptive services.

"JHPIEGO was honored to be such a large part of the relief efforts after the tsunami. We've maintained health care programs focused on women and families in Indonesia for over 30 years. Because of our close working relationships with the Ministry of Health, nongovernmental organizations, and local professionals and business groups, we were well-poised to help with emergency healthcare relief and now with a long-term strategy for a new healthcare infrastructure," comments Dr. Mancuso.

Over the past year, JHPIEGO and its partners have continued the relief efforts of the public and private sector health care system. They are rebuilding and repairing community health clinics and midwifery schools, providing updated equipment and overseeing staff training to ensure high-quality services and compliance to national standards. More than 200 midwives have been trained in normal delivery care. Likewise, 73 private sector midwives have received equipment, supplies and training to resume their livelihoods. Thousands of free service vouchers were distributed to women living in camps; 65 percent have been redeemed.

Grants from three private-sector partners, Johnson & Johnson, ExxonMobil and UNOCAL, will further help JHPIEGO accomplish the goal of reestablishing and strengthening midwifery services in Aceh. Currently, JHPIEGO and J&J are working together to reestablish the capacity of health providers and services within three villages hardest hit by the tsunami. J&J funds also helped to re-equip an important, busy delivery ward at Zainal Abidin Hospital, the largest referral center in Aceh. ExxonMobil's Educating Women and Girls initiative will support JHPIEGO's work in faculty development and educational improvements at North Aceh Health Academy. The project includes teaching and technical training, and updating and improving the reference library, skills laboratory and clinical practice sites, as well as the development of an educational exchange program with a more established midwifery school. The UNOCAL Foundation grant will contribute to the revitalization of Ingin Jaya Sub-district (Aceh Besar District) by strengthening health services in one "mukim" consisting of seven villages with a population of 4,000. The community will be involved in all planning and decisions to ensure community ownership of the health services.

"A midwife is the village's first point of contact for primary care and referral. The education of new and practicing midwives is one of the key factors in reestablishing and improving quality health care in Indonesia. JHPIEGO is committed to bringing the best services possible to the women and children of this region," concluded Mancuso.

About JHPIEGOJHPIEGO, (pronounced "JA-PYE-GO"), an international health organization affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., builds global and local partnerships to enhance the quality of health care services for women and families through training and support for health care providers including doctors, nurses, midwives and health educators working in limited-resource settings throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe.

JHPIEGO has Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health, HIV/AIDS, and Family Planning and Reproductive Health to strengthen services to women and families in more than 40 countries around the world.

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