Sixty-one (61) Professional State Certified Midwives Set 30 of the National School of Midwifery have successfully completed an intensive training on Midwifery at a ceremony held on Saturday June 4, 2016 at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown.
Delivering the keynote address on the theme: “Women and Newborns: The Heart of Midwifery”, the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation 1, Madam Madina Rahman described the event as an important milestone for the Ministry and thanked the Principal of the National School of Midwifery for such a successful and large turnout of midwives trained.
She observed that last year the school graduated 29 midwives and in 2016 they have taken a giant leap to produce 61 midwives which she described as a remarkable achievement.
Madam Madina Rahman reminded the midwives about the four important pillars for successful midwifery practice: Commitment, Empathy, Quality and Selflessness, adding that when a midwife embraces all four principles, the life expectancy of the populace will increase dramatically.
The Deputy Minister reiterated her Ministry’s commitment on the need to improve maternal and child health, and believes in investing in strategies, programmes and interventions aiming at delivering quality care thus reducing unnecessary loss of lives through pregnancy and childbirth complications.
She said she is optimistic that with the Free Health Care Initiative and the concerted effort of health partners and the Ministry, more women will have access to midwives and other services during pregnancy and delivery.
Madam Rahman described reproductive health as a fundamental human right of all individuals and families irrespective of race, religion, creed, beliefs and values, adding that in countries where pregnant women receive care from Skilled Attendants, deaths from preventable causes and obstetric complications have been reduced considerably.
She said WHO 2007 studies shows that there is mounting evidence demonstrating the benefit of midwifery care in the reduction of maternal and newborn, and are seen as crucial and a vital force in designing and implementing available health care delivery system. UNFPA 2008 studies, she said have shown that when the number of midwives increases, the number of women who die decreases as adding that midwives play a pivotal role in the prevention and reduction of maternal and infant mortality rates.
The Deputy Minister appealed to the newly certified midwives that as midwives, the provision of safe, high quality midwifery care to women and their infants should be their passion.
The UNFPA Assistant Representative, Ibrahim Kamara described the graduation as the fifth and largest batch of students to graduate since the inception of the UNFPA supported midwifery training project.
The Midwifery training project he said was initiated to increase the number of trained midwives when the Free Health Care Initiative was launched in 2010 at a time when there were only 95 midwives in the country.
Mr. Ibrahim Kamara stated that in order to make a difference in the health status of women and children in Sierra Leone, the implementation of the National Health Sector Strategic Plan 2010-2015 required 300 midwives by 2013.
He said since the partnership with the Ministry of Health in the midwifery project, over 376 midwives have been trained from the two midwifery schools in Makeni and Freetown, adding that despite the critical role played by midwives in reducing maternal and newborn mortality, UNFPA is aware of the difficult condition under which they work particularly in rural areas.
The UNFPA Assistant Representative pledged UNFPA’s continued support to the education and training programmes, regulation of midwives, and will strive to strengthen midwifery services and care by paying all tuition fees and allowances to student midwives, rehabilitate and refurbish the midwifery schools with teaching and learning material among others.
Giving the School’s Report, the Principal, National School of Midwifery, Dr. Joan Hannah Shepherd said the period under review will be remembered with success stories to their credit but was also filled with sadness as they lost two of their student midwives in 2014 and 2016.
She congratulated Set 30 for the best result they have had in years with 100 percent pass rate credited with three distinctions, 23 credits and 35 passes.
The mission statement of the school she said was to produce competence and skilled professionals in midwifery settings who can function at various levels of care towards reduction of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity
The Principal stated that the Ministry of Health continues its support to the school through provision of staff and government subvention, adding that the school as an implementing partner of UNFPA under the Women’s Cluster Group continues to receive support from UNFPA as a major partner in a drive to increase the number of Midwives trained in the country.
The President of the West African College of Nursing, Mrs. Patricia Bah defined midwives as warriors on the front-line of health care, battling to ensure that women survived childbirth and that babies are born safely even in the most marginalized areas.
She said according to WHO 2012 Report, the maternal mortality worldwide has dropped by 47 percent since 1990, adding that this may be attributed to the role midwives play with the provision of an enabling environment.
The Permanent Secretary and Chairman for the occasion, Mr. David Banya on behalf of the Ministry recognized the invaluable role played by the Principal and staff of the school for making sure that with support from government and UNFPA, the number of midwives keeps increasing steadily.
He said midwives are cardinal to midwifery care and can make enormous contributions to the health of mothers and their newborn children.
Other speakers include WHO Representative, Dr. Anders Nordstrom, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer 1, Haja Fatmata Mansaray and the Senior Midwifery Adviser, International Confederation of Midwifery, Nester Moyo.
Commissioning of the newly qualified Midwives, distribution of certificates, special prizes and awards, and a skit by student midwives set 31 formed high point of the ceremony.