The local chapter of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood has launched a campaign to uplift the status of midwives in the country who are the primary caregivers in childbirth.
Chairperson of the local board Lennie Adeline Kamwendo said that as Malawi’s maternal mortality rate stands at 675 women for every 100 000 live births it is important to ensure that the key healthcare provider at childbirth, the midwife is happy as this will translate to happy and healthy mothers as more women will deliver in hospitals.
“Midwives are key in the provision of maternal and new born health care. When well resourced, motivated and supported, midwives will deliver quality services which should significantly contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity,” said Kamwendo.
As a retired midwife herself, Kamwendo lamented the lack of recognition given to midwives whom she said hugely contribute to safe motherhood.
She noted that midwives and nurses wear the same uniform and yet midwives have to go for additional training after their nursing qualification and do not get any extra perks on top of what other nurses are paid.
“The fact that the vernacular name for a midwife is the same as that of a traditional birth attendant (azamba) does not help matters. Additionally, both midwives and nurses wear the same uniform and distinguishing devices. Until very recently, the directorate at the Ministry of Health was designated as Director of Nursing, and has now changed to Director of Nursing and Midwifery,” said Kamwendo.
She said the campaign aims to ensure that midwives are recognised in status, role and their contribution to safe motherhood and that they are well resourced so that they can be motivated to provide better care and pregnant women can in turn be motivated to give birth at health facilities thereby reducing maternal deaths.
In his words WRA board member Maziko Matemba noted that it is unlikely for Malawi to meet its MDG on maternal health if the midwives are not happy.
“Midwives are demotivated because of the money they receive. If someone is motivated then they are likely to provide quality care,” he said.