By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti has commended midwives for their roles in assisting women with pregnancies and child birth.
Moeti said 2020, WHO is celebrating the Year of the Nurse and Midwife and so this is an excellent opportunity to recognize the vital roles of midwives in assisting women with pregnancy, childbirth and during the postpartum period.
The theme for the International Day of the Midwife this year is “Midwives with women: celebrate, demonstrate, mobilize, unite,” which emphasizes the importance of mobilizing communities and maintaining provision of essential health services, particularly as countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who said, in the African Region, between 2000 and 2017, maternal and newborn deaths have declined by 40% in the African Region, thanks largely to the commitment of midwives working with other health professionals.
“However, one in two (53%) of African midwives have reported feeling disrespected by fellow health workers in the course of their work. We must therefore do more to appreciate the valuable contribution of midwives in health-care teams.
“Countries are making strides in improving the skill and working environment for midwives. Ghana has introduced a graduate diploma in midwifery and revised job descriptions to give midwives more autonomy. Lesotho is also interested in providing advanced levels of pre-service training.
“In the African Region, WHO has worked with countries to strengthen regulatory frameworks, and competency-based and standardized education, training and practice for midwives, including integrated training for nursing and midwifery. Faith-based training institutions in Botswana, Cameroon, Lesotho and Malawi are all using WHO’s midwifery curricula. Experts from Sierra Leone, Zambia and WHO collaborating centres on nursing and midwifery are supporting several countries to review their curricula and regulatory instruments in line with WHO guidance.
“In the COVID-19 response, we are training nurses and midwives in infection prevention and control to limit the transmission of this virus in health facilities. So far, over 3000 front-line health workers, including midwives, have participated in webinars. These activities complement trainings led by chief nurses and midwifery officers in countries.