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Sierra Leone
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

UNFPA calls for more investment in midwifery education

By Alfred Koroma

Deputy Country Representative of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), Sibeso Mululuma has reaffirmed UNFPA’s support to the Government of Sierra Leon and  called on the government and other stakeholders to increase investment into  midwifery education.

“It is critical for the government to increase investment in the midwifery program,” the UN diplomat told the crowd.

Mululuma made the call during the commemoration of the International Midwives Day in Bo Government Hospital.  UNFPA, the main supporting donor partner of midwifery, commemorated this year’s May 5 in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and other stakeholders.

 “As we mark 100 years of progress of the midwifery sector, we call on all stakeholders especially the Government to increase investments that will lead to the training of more midwives, Mululuma said, arguing that for midwives to achieve their potentials, greater investment is needed in area of education and training; health workforce planning, management and regulation of the work environment; leadership and governance; and service delivery.

Midwifery, a health profession dealing with pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum period which includes care for newborn, is facing a global shortage of workers. The profession is projected to face severe shortage of midwives by 2030, UNFPA’s 2021 State of the World’s Midwifery (SoWMy) report.

“On average, Sierra Leone produces approximately 150 midwives a year. But despite its progressive indicators, the country may not reach the optimum number of midwives required to meet the acceptable standards for midwifery workforce if more investment into the sector to triple production is not made possible,” Mululuma said, recommending a close monitoring of the current situation where most midwives are aged between 34-54 years, nearing retirement age.

She assured UNFPA’s commitment to strengthening a resilient health sector through support to the training of more midwives, prioritizing professionalization of midwifery and supporting cadres; improving pre-service and in-service education; and implementing measures critical in improving obstetric care services. She however stated that to achieve such a milestone would require accelerated efforts by all stakeholders. 

“It is in this regard that I reaffirm UNFPA’s continued commitment to support the Government of Sierra Leone in building a resilient health sector through the training of more midwives and in implementing measures critical in improving obstetric care services in the country,” she noted. 

 This year’s commemoration comes at a time that UNFPA has started implementing its 2022-2025 Strategic Plan which seeks to accelerate progress towards the three transformative results of ending unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths and ending gender-based violence and other harmful practices. But the three transformative results cannot be achieved without major investments in midwifery, Mululuma said.

National President, Midwife Association Sierra Leone, Edwina Conteh described  midwives as real-life heroes who do not only save lives but also provide a variety of vital medical services, rating Midwifery job as one of the most mentally and academically demanding program.

 Conteh and her team felt proud to celebrate this year’s Day of the Midwife as they look forward to coming together as midwives to advocate for investment in quality midwifery care around Sierra Leone.

While celebrating the international day set aside to honor their contributions in society, speaker after speaker commended the contribution of Midwives in the providing public health services and emphasized the need to invest in midwifery education.

For Frida Berg, WHO representative, registered nurse and midwife, childbirth is something that should be one of the most transforming and rewarding event for all women. It should be remembered with great joy and laughter which she said, is only made possible through recognition of midwives education. To have professional midwives, there is need to recognize midwife education.

Sexual reproductive, maternal, new-born and adolescent health (SRMNAH) is an essential component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Improving SRMNAH requires increase commitment to investment in health workforce of which midwives play a pivotal role in the wider workforce, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Princess Dugba said in her key note address.

 According to her, strengthening education and training of midwives play a key role in reducing maternal and infant mortality, adding that fully educated and licensed midwives integrated into interdisciplinary teams can deliver about 90% of essential sexual, reproductive and maternal, new-born and adolescent health interventions across the life course. She also urged donor partners, academic institutions to invest in midwives.

As part of the celebration, packages containing toiletries were given to pregnant women and lactating mothers. Maasah Kpakima, one of the beneficiaries who spoke to this medium recalled the hospitable treatment she received from midwives when she was pregnant unto her delivery. She is glad celebrating the International Midwives Day. “I felt happy, more importantly for the gift I received today. She however called on government to make more drugs available in hospitals.

“100 Years of Progress” is the theme for this year’s commemoration, reflecting on the century old continued existence of midwifery. Nurses, midwives and students midwives converged at the Bo Government Hospital to grace the occasion.

“Follow the data, invest in midwives,” the words of a song sang in chorus by midwives, reechoing their needs. 

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