By Paul Obi in Abuja
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yesterday blamed the high rate of maternal and child mortality in Nigeria on the lack of well-trained midwives to man health institutions and ensure safe delivery.
The UN agency also stressed that unemployment among midwives remained another critical challenge confronting the nation’s health sector.
This was made known at the inaugural International Midwifery Conference in Abuja. UNFPA warned that apart from the neglect of trained midwives, most young girls in Nigeria no longer show keen interest in midwifery profession as they did in years past.
This came as Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, stressed that midwives were important to realisation of health agenda of the federal government.
Represented by Director, Human Resource Management in the ministry, Mrs. Didi Jack, the minister stated that plans were underway by government to guarantee availability of 10,000 wards in the country which would lead to employment of more midwives.
Resident Representative of United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, in Nigeria, Ratidza Ndhlovu while making her presentation explained that “teachers in many midwifery schools in the country are ageing, and on the verge of retirement.
“We need strong institutions, schools of midwifery should be funded by government to meet global standard.
“How do we expect the midwife to deliver life when there is no road, accommodation, water and other basic amenities. We need water system and light in every primary health centres.”
Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who was represented by wife of Speaker, House of Representatives, Mrs. Gimbiya Dogara, recalled the role of Mary Slessor in stopping the killing of twins in Nigeria.
She urged the midwives to remain confident in rendering services to all segments of the society, pledging to give support the midwives to assist them in their daily job.
President of International Confederation of Midwives, France Day-Stirk, said government of the country should do more to improve maternal and child health. She noted that this could be done via the empowerment of midwives in the country.
According to her, every woman around the world should have a midwife. Quoting the State of the World Midwifery Report 2014, she informed that Nigeria and India accounted for highest maternal and child deaths globally, with Nigeria coming first.
“Midwives care for women, with skills and compassion; the best partnership for a pregnant woman is with a qualified midwife,” she stated.
In the same vein, a Professor of Midwifery, Dr Jacqueline Dunkley, said it was the right of every woman around the world to have access to midwife.
She added that the role of midwives were not just physical, but psychological. She also challenged midwives in the country to be professional and friendlier.
Vice President, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Mrs. Margaret Akinsola, urged government to remove the ban on employment in the health sector, as the ban now constituted an obstacle to efficient health care service delivery.
Akinsola further stated that communities were paying for the ban, which had resulted in several loss of lives in the country.