Freetown, June 29, 2015 (MOHS) – The National School of Midwifery has held its Graduation and Prize-Giving Ceremony with 27 professional State Certified Midwives of set Twenty-nine.
Delivering the keynote address at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Madam Madina Rahman described the event as a special day for the human resource health sector, communities and families.
She reminded the graduands that their role as midwives is a position of trust to making delivery safe.
Madam Rahman described them as an important catalyst for quality health care and for the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality which is a top priority in the President’s Agenda for Prosperity. She reiterated that the needs and healthy growth of women and children is a priority to the government and encouraged the newly State Certified Midwives to take the challenge in making the desired impact.
The Free Health Care Initiative the Deputy Minister said was launched to solve the problem of the vulnerable women and children, and most importantly to reduce the unacceptable maternal infant and newborn mortality rates in the country. She said the task is a global challenge but with the renewed spirit, roles and responsibility she is optimistic that we would make the difference.
The Ebola outbreak, the Deputy minister said had its impact on the human resource capacity in the health sector, leaving a gap and reiterated government’s plan and commitment for the training of more midwives as well as providing a safe and conducive healthy environment in all hospitals and peripheral health units.
Madam Rahman lauded the Principal and staff for the hard work and congratulated the graduands for being successful throughout their exams. She reminded them of their responsibility to be ready to work in their various deployed duty stations and to give their best.
Making his statement, the Assistant UNFPA Representative, Ibrahim Sahr Kamara observed that increasing access to health has been a human right issue noting the importance for the survival of the mother and the baby in their role as midwives.
He said the role of the Midwife has increased over the years with added responsibility on postnatal care, labour, delivery and clinical care.
Mr. Kamara opined that concerted efforts are needed to address institutional delivery, the use of contraceptives, and the root causes of hemorrhage, among other causes.
He said Sierra Leone has made progress on the MDG 5 as evident in the UN critical indicator but that the challenge continues to achieve the desired goal.
Mr. Kamara encouraged the graduands to rise up and cope with the challenges ahead with a view to making the impact of their training felt.
He reiterated UNFPA continued support to the School as well as plans to assist the Nurses and Midwives Board to make it a more viable institution.
Congratulating the newly certified midwives, Mr. Kamara described their certificates as an instrument of high value, and implored them to be committed and dedicated to duty.
Giving the School’s Report for the period under review (2013-2015), the Principal, National School of Midwifery, Dr. Joan Elizabeth Estella Shepherd said the key mandate of the National School of Midwifery is the training of Midwives and Obstetric Nurses for Sierra Leone to work at various levels of care. Midwives as we know are critical for the survival of mothers and newborns. Dr. Shepherd opined.
The School’s Mission Statement, Dr. Shepherd said aims at producing competent and skilled professionals in Midwifery practice setting who can function at various levels of care towards reduction of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. She added that it’s also aimed at ensuring that student midwives are fully equipped to meet the challenges of their career, whilst at the same time offering quality reproductive services to women, children and communities as a whole.
On the professional status, Dr. Shepherd said the school is legally recognized locally and internationally and governed by the Nurses and Midwives Board of Sierra Leone.
The Ministry of Health, she said continues its support to the National School of Midwifery through the provision of Government subvention in a form of grant. She told her audience that the school as an implementing partner under the Women’s Cluster Group also continues to receive support from UNFPA as a major donor with a view to increasing the number of midwives trained in the country.
She said through support from UNFPA, the Curriculum of the Midwifery School and student workbook and relevant tools would be revised soon in consultation with the Nurses and Midwives Board.
Commenting on major challenges, Dr. Shepherd stated that a new school building and the necessary infrastructural development are therefore urgently needed for expansion of the training program to include all necessary facilities for a training institution, and advocated for the provision of additional vehicles to undertake supportive supervision and monitoring.
In her words, the Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, Matron Fatmata Mansaray told her audience that the services of Midwives started since the beginning of history in giving birth.
She expressed concern over the gaps for Midwives in the health facilities, pointing out that most of the deliveries are done by MCH Aides and some, by Traditional Birth Attendants.
Matron Fatmata Mansaray applauded the graduands and admonished them to demonstrate proficiency and dedication to service.
“Money is a motivation but patriotism and nationalism should take the lead”, opined the Deputy Chief Nursing Officer.
The President, West African College of Nursing, Mrs. Amelia Gabba said midwives care is the most effective to reach MDGs 4 and 5 indicators.
Sierra Leone she said, needed midwives ever than before with equitable distribution to achieve the desired goal within the frame work of the free health care initiative and the Agenda for prosperity.
She calls for the urgent deployment of the midwives to various duty stations, and encouraged them to promote excellence and standards at all level.
Among the students that were given special awards in the form of cash and trophies were Best Student for Introductory, Victoria Kamara, Best Student for Hospital Final, Gifty Florence Massaquoi, Best Student for State Final, Victoria Meau, and the award for Students with Unique Qualities include Josephine Sesay, Finda Kpangay, Florence Musa and Victoria Kamara.
The Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. Ernest Surur, and the Chairman for the occasion, former Director of Nursing Services, Matron Marina John also made meaningful contributions during the ceremony.
A short play by 2nd Year Student Midwives Set 30, and cultural performances by the Sierra Leone National Dance Troupe formed part of the ceremony.