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UNFPA calls for more investment in midwifery

Bo, southern Sierra Leone, 5 May 2022-  
Sierra Leone joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of the Midwife on 5 May, 2022. The event which was held at Bo Government Hospital under the theme ‘100 Years of Progress’ was graced by the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Hon. Princess Dugba.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Representative of UNFPA in Sierra Leone, Sibeso Mululuma underscored the need for increased investments in midwifery education and training, health workforce planning, management and regulation and service delivery,  to enable the country to reduce preventable maternal mortality.

Ms. Mululuma recognized the vital role of midwives in delivering quality sexual and reproductive health services, serving as an essential part of the world’s fight against maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity and as the backbone of the COVID-19 response, and delivering a range of services needed for safe motherhood.

Sierra Leone’s 2019 Demographic and Heath Survey report shows that the country has made progress with a 38 percent per cent reduction in maternal deaths – from 1,165 per 100,000 in 2013 to 717 per 100,000 live births in 2019, thanks to the meaningful contribution of midwives. “This notwithstanding, Sierra Leone is at a crossroad in meeting the SDG 3 target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births,” she emphasized.

In her key keynote speech at the event, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Hon. Princess Dugba, said, “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.”

Government, she said, is working with partners to improve the quality of maternal and new-born care, and to strengthen nursing and midwifery education, continuing professional development, and regulation. “We are also putting policies in place to address sexual harassment and promote occupational safety, towards creating conducive working environment for midwives and other health workers,” she emphasized.

In her remarks, Vice President of the Sierra Leone Midwives Association, Edwina Conteh, called for stakeholders’ intervention in addressing critical challenges facing the midwifery practice in the country. “Our workforce is inadequate to deliver the expected maternal health services. The country needs 3000 midwives by 2030 and we are below 50% of the expected workforce and the majority of those in the workforce is close to retirement,” Conteh said.

Speaking at the same event, the Register of Nurses and Midwife Board, Madam Christiana BMassally announced that in order to increase the number of midwives trained, the Government of Sierra Leone was embarking on a direct entry program for midwifery training. Effective October 2022, the Midwifery schools in the country will commence the enrolment of students directly into the midwifery program without having undertaken initial nursing training.

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John Baimba Sesay

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