Freetown, Oct. 2, 2015 (MOHS) – The UNFPA Representative Bannet Ndyanabangi has expressed the need for strong health systems and adequate human resource capacity in handling maternal and newborn care in Sierra Leone. This he said has been reaffirmed by the Ebola outbreak in the country, where pregnant women struggle to access the limited health care services to ensure safe delivery.
Addressing participants at the opening ceremony of the two day Midwifery Curriculum Review meeting at the National School of Midwifery in Freetown, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi said according to the 2010-2015 National Health Sector Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation the country had only 95 midwives when they needed 300, adding that since then over 300 midwives from both the Makeni and Freetown schools have graduated.
Dr. Ndyanabangi reiterated UNFPA’s supports to midwifery education in the country with more than 125 new intakes and 149 continuing students in terms of payment of tuition, quarterly allowances to students, and provision of teaching and learning equipment to skills, laboratory and supportive supervision during clinical placement.
He said the Demographic Health Survey of 2013 indicates that skilled birth attendance increased from 42 percent to 62 percent institutional deliveries by 87 percent and the contraceptive prevalence rate from 8 percent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2013.
The UNFPA Country Representative reiterated their commitment to supporting the government towards strengthening the human resource capacity of health staff and the institutional capacities of the Midwifery schools to enable them continue to produce professionally trained qualified and competent midwives as a way to help address maternal mortality in the country. He said UNFPA will ensure that skilled and qualified service providers are available to offer delivery services through training of doctors, midwives, Nurse-Anaesthetists and Community Health Officers as Non-Physicians Clinicians, thereby enabling them to provide Emergency Obstetric Care services by way of task shifting.
Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment to supporting midwives and midwifery in Sierra Leone as they work toward ensuring that no woman dies while giving life.
The Chief Nursing Officer, Matron Hossinatu Kanu disclosed that nurses and midwives are part of the reforms as they constitute 76 percent of the health workforce.
She informed participants that as a way of reforms in the nursing profession, the Ministry has developed five pillars including patient and health worker safety, health workforce, essential health services, community ownership, information and surveillance among others.
Matron Kanu disclosed that her Directorate has developed and implement plans for career pathway to upgrade the level of nurses and midwives, and placed a ban on the operations of unaccredited nursing schools in the country.
She underscored the importance of midwives are key in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, describing the curriculum review as the backbone to midwifery care to the outcomes of mothers and infants in Sierra Leone.
Giving an overview of the Midwifery Curriculum Review, the Principal, National School of Midwifery, Dr. Joan Shepherd described Midwifery as an indispensible service to mothers and babies.
She said the training of Midwives is one of the key interventions geared towards the reduction of maternal and infant morbidity, mortality, and disability, and the provision of sexual reproductive health services at all level of care.
Dr. Shepherd told participants that the objective of the review was to reflect present trends and innovative approaches in Midwifery education and practice, and to respond to the emergence of new diseases and changing client health needs through development of new modules subjected to the approval by the Nurses and Midwives Board of Sierra Leone.
The rationale she said is to review a curriculum for professional midwives as part of quality assurance measures to prepare and produce skilled birth attendants who will provide quality sexual and reproductive health services to impact positively on the health status of target beneficiaries.
The Registrar, Nurses and Midwives Board of Sierra Leone, Hannah Valcarcel thanked UNFPA for the support to the Midwifery School towards midwifery education and practice in Sierra Leone.
She lauded the Ministry of Health for working towards the reduction of maternal mortality rate in the country, emphasizing that no woman should die as a result of pregnancy and child birth, but still struggling with challenges to reach its goal. The Review she said would help to upgrade standards and improve the current situation.
Making his remarks, the Director of Reproductive and Child Health, Dr. Santigie Sesay told his audience that as a country we are renowned of having the worst maternal mortality rates in the world currently accounting of 1,165 deaths in 100,000 live births.
He said the inadequate competent midwives in Sierra Leone pose a damaging effect in the survival of mothers and their newborns, pointing out that this has contributed to the poor health status of our would-be mothers leading to devastating outcomes including disability and deaths; whilst many newborns loss their lives as they enter into the world.
“As a ministry we have done a lot by improving the health of the vulnerable women and children through the free health care and its complementing programmes and projects such as the Performance Base Financing (PBF) Scheme among others; the growing gains have been severely reversed with the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. Without any attempt in enumerating some of the negative effects, which I reckon you all aware of; it is but important to emphasize that much is needed in our collective effort to regain those loses and by extension building a resilient health systems”, opined Dr. Santigie Sesay.
The Consultant Obstetrician Gynecologist and Medical Superintendent, Princess Christian Maternity hospital, Dr. Alimamy Philip Koroma lauded the initiative of the school to review its curriculum, describing the event as a step in the right direction for the improvement of Midwifery health care delivery service in the country.
He reiterated his commitment in ensuring that maternal and newborn care is promoted to a satisfactory level and maintained his stance to providing his expertise, experience and knowledge in making the school a more viable institution.
Other highlights of the Review Meeting include Handing over of the working tools and modules by the sponsor UNFPA Country office.
JAK/KK/ MOHS /SLENA