News

Newly graduated midwives to contribute to reducing maternal mortality in Sierra Leone

16 July 2019
Midwives in Sierra Leone singing at their graduation
Midwives in Sierra Leone singing at their graduation

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 5 July 2019 – Forty-nine midwives graduated from the National School of Midwifery in Freetown as part of UNFPA’s mission to contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality in the country. The new graduates will be urgently deployed to midwifery units throughout the country with a special focus on marginalized and inaccessible communities as part of efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 - Good health and well-being.

The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, who was the key-note speaker at the graduation and prize-giving ceremony, applauded the strides made by the School of Midwifery over the years, adding that he felt elated to be part of a sector that saves lives, especially during pregnancy and birth.

The theme at the graduation was “Midwives: Defenders of Women’s Rights” and as UNFPA country representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson said in her address, “Midwives are critical to UNFPA’s mission to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. Good-quality midwifery care improves outcomes and saves lives.”

Over the past 50 years, UNFPA has been working globally to advocate for the improved reproductive health of women and young people, by partnering with the health sector and midwives in the areas of adolescent health, pregnancy and delivery, newborn care, family planning services and gender-related issues. 

Since 2010, UNFPA in Sierra Leone has supported the National School of Midwifery through funding for uniforms, tuition fees, recruitment and administration.  In 2018, through the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) Saving Lives Programme, UNFPA supported the Government of Sierra Leone in training 163 new students who enrolled in the three schools of midwifery (Freetown, Makeni and Bo).  As a result of UNFPA’s support, the number of competent midwives in the country has increased from 647 in 2017 to 754 at the end of 2018, an increase of 16.5 per cent.

The Principal of the National School of Midwifery, Dr. Joan Shepherd, expressed her gratitude and appreciation for UNFPA support for the training of midwives. She explained the school continues to make strides in the knowledge and skills offered to the students through the 18-month midwifery training.

Last year, with UNFPA support, the first ever Strategic Plan for Nursing and Midwifery 2019-2023 was launched. The Plan has been developed through a systematic approach to determining the strengths and challenges of the nursing and midwifery systems in Sierra Leone. The Plan also aims to assess the context-specific needs in nursing and midwifery within the wider remit of the relevant policies of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and to translate these into strategies for the improved provision of services. 

 

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For more information, please contact:

Angelique Reid, UNFPA Sierra Leone, Communications Specialist

Tel: +232 78340044 - Email: areid@unfpa.org