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47 Midwives graduate to tackle maternal and Child mortality

May 3, 2018 By Kadrie Koroma

A cross-section of graduants

Some 47 State Certified Midwives, Set 32, on Monday, April 30, graduated after successfully completing 18- month training in both theoretical and practical work.

In her Keynote address on the theme: “Midwives Leading the Way with Quality Care”, Chairman of the West Africa College of Nursing (WACN) Sierra Leone Chapter, Mrs. Patricia Bah, reiterated that the new grauduants into the fold of qualified Midwives would contribute to improve midwifery in the country.

She described this year’s graduation theme as not only timely but also appropriate, as the country has gone through health emergencies like Ebola and series of cholera outbreak in some districts.

Mrs. Bah disclosed that Sierra Leone was among countries with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, adding that the country is still recording high cases of complications from pregnancy, like fistula, which could be prevented if midwives in all the health facilities could respond promptly to obstetric emergencies.

UNFPA Representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson, said the midwives that graduated were the seventh batch of students to graduate from the project that was initiated by UNFPA in 2010 in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

She informed her audience that the project was initiated because of very low number of midwives in the country, which was approximately 95 in 2010, adding that to date UNFPA has supported the government, through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, to train 647 midwives that are deployed in hospitals and Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) in the country. She said that although it is estimated that the country needs about 3, 500 midwives for a population of seven million, yet they are still quite far off and must not rest on their laurels.

Dr. Eva Dickson reminded all and sundry that midwives are the backbone of a strong, resilient health system, and the main provider of basic package of essential health services for the survival and promotion of the health of mothers and newborns.

She said that despite encouraging gains that the government has made in the health sector, about 3, 000 women die in Sierra Leone as a result of obstetric conditions, due to lack of access to quality obstetric care. She thanked the Health Ministry, the school’s administration and tutors for their hard work in training this cadre of health staff, and congratulated the newly trained midwives on their achievement.

The UNFPA representative re-affirmed their pledge to support midwives and midwifery in Sierra Leone, as they work towards the goal of ensuring that no woman should die while giving life.

ICAP/RRHS Project Director, Gertrude Chipungu, said ICAP at Columbia University felt honoured to partner with the National School of Midwifery in improving learning environment for student midwives through the Resilient, Responsive Health System (RRHS) initiated project.

She told the gathering that the RRHS project is a five-year project funded by the Human Resource for Health Administration (HRSA), United States Government with a mission to support the government in its drive to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates through training high-quality midwives who will work in rural and urban settings in the country.

Deputy Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Mary Fullah, disclosed that there is a robust reform taking place in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Directorate of Nursing and Midwifery Services is no exception.

She told the gathering that they have developed the Nursing and Midwifery Policy and several guidelines which will give direction to provide quality nursing and midwifery services to the nation.

Giving the School’s Report, Principal of National School of Midwifery, Dr. Joan Shepherd described the day as another milestone for the school as they successfully turn over 47 newly-qualified midwives products of the school, thus contributing to human resource for midwifery services in Sierra Leone.

She informed her audience that the school was a proud pioneer of midwifery education and a centre of excellence under the directives of the Ministry of Health that bares a key responsibility of training professional midwives and obstetric nurses through affiliation programme.

Dr. Shepherd stated that their programmes range from 18 months professional midwifery certificate course for post-basic State Registered Nurses, to obstetric affiliation for General Nursing Students in the SRN and SECHN programmes, from various nurse training institutions for a period of three months and five months respectively.

She said the school had a 100 percent pass rate in the State Final Board Examination while some students excelled with credits and distinction at the different exams, adding that the school, through support from UNFPA, has succeeded in training over 350 professional midwives who are now posted to work in regional hospitals and other levels of care.

The programme was chaired by the Director of Reproductive and Child Health, Dr. Santigie Sesay.

The highlight of the event included a skit performance by Student Midwives Set 33, presentation and commissioning of newly qualified midwives, and distribution of certificates, awards and special prizes.

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