Eleven midwives from 11 Ugandan sub-regions have been recognized by the Swedish government for their contribution towards the health sector by helping reduce maternal mortalities.
These stood out for their resilience in helping mothers deliver safely amidst challenges including poor pay, lack of necessary equipment, and moving long distances to work.
In her acceptance speech, Veneranda Musasizi, a registered midwife at Mparo health centre IV in Rukiga district, noted that it meant a lot to be recorgnised for doing a “very challenging” job.
“I am happy that today people from far have recognized that I have served mothers and for all those years, and what inspires me is that a mother has never died in my arms. I am really very happy and praying that may God help me keep serving and saving the mothers until I retire,” said Musasizi, who has spent 19 years in the job and delivers at least 70 mothers every month, or 840 a year.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), one midwife in Uganda conducts between 350 to 500 deliveries a year, far higher than the recommended 175 by the World Health Organisation.
The winning midwives were selected from the sub-regions of Kabale, Busoga, Lango, Teso, West Nile, Karamoja, Bunyoro, Ankole, Acholi, Rwenzori and Bugisu.
Per Lindgarde, the Swedish ambassador to Uganda, observed that midwives play a key role in maternal and newborn health since their presence often makes the difference between life and death. Lindgarde further observed that the midwives are central in promoting women empowerment which, in the end, contributes to economic prosperity and sustainable development.
The Swedish envoy stressed that gender inequality and the lack of male involvement in maternal health are the root causes of high maternal mortality. He urged that men should be engaged more.
“It is our hope that all awarded midwives will continue to find inspiration and motivation to carry out the tremendously important work that they do and be role models for other midwives and students in their districts, regions and Uganda as a whole,” said Lindgarde on Wednesday at a dinner held at his residence in Kololo.
Alain Sibenaler, the UNFPA country representative, explained that even with support from the Swedish government in training midwives, there were still gaps that needed to be filled. He mainly pointed at recruitment whereby many of the trained midwives were not absorbed by the districts despite the staffing gaps in there.
Sibanaler urged government to prioritise the recruitment and retention of trained midwives, and this could be done by increasing their wages. He further suggested that under-served local governments be supported to recruit the number of midwives they need.
“By prioritising investments in midwifery, we can only stand to gain. When educated to international standards and within a fully functional health system, midwives can provide about 90 per cent of the essential care to women and newborns and can potentially reduce maternal and newborn deaths by two thirds,” said Sibenaler.
Sarah Opendi, the state minister for health, commended the 11 midwives for their contribution and for helping deliver mothers safely amidst challenging situations.
She said government was in the process of reviewing their salaries, adding that since there a few midwives, government was considering giving contracts to the retired one to fill this gap. The Midwifery Awards were first launched in 2015.
Source : The Observer
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