It is another day to celebrate the International Day of the Midwives. The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) in the Federal Capital Territory rolled out the drums. REGINA OTOKPA reports
Since the first celebration of the International Day of the Midwives on May 5th, 1991 by the International Confederation of Midwives with Nigeria inclusive, it has become a norm by the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).
The event is used to beef up activities to ensure a reduced childhood and maternal mortality rate especially in the rural areas where the prevalent rate is highest.
Globally, Nigeria and India have been estimated to account for over one third of all maternal death. In 2015, Nigeria recorded 58,000 maternal deaths where 145 women of child bearing age and 2,300 under five year olds were lost to the cold hands of death on a daily basis.
The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, had earlier lamented that despite the lifesaving efforts of midwives to sensitize millions of women on their right to sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, “yet too many women lack access to these services”
According to fresh statistics released by the Executive Director, UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, no fewer than “300,000 women die during pregnancy or at child birth, some 3 million babies do not survive the first month of life and another two and a half million babies are stillborn.” He however noted that most of these women and children would still be alive if they had access to well-trained midwives within the framework of a strong health system.
To address the situation, UNFPA and NANNM have continued to advocate the upgrade of healthcare facilities across all borders especially in the rural areas, provision of due recognition and remuneration to midwives and most importantly, increased investment by the government to boost activities in the sector.
While on the way to one of the Internally Displaced Persons Camp at Kuchingoro Abuja, to donate foodstuffs, free counselling and medical care, the National President, NANNM, Abdulrafiu Adeniji, told Inside Abuja that there was need for government to make available social amenities in the rural areas to curb the rural- urban drift, which cannot be made less important, especially in an area where people living in the rural areas are suffering.
He noted that the dearth of facilities in the hospitals, lack of security for health workers and the low recognition and underrating of midwives across the country, have placed both nurses and midwives at a crossroads, as they are perpetually bound, unable to perform their duties efficiently.
Men as Midwives ? Inside Abuja however discovered that men have expanded their scope and have begun to take up professional career in not only nursing, but now midwifery.
To confirm this, Adeniji said, “There are some myths and misconceptions about midwifery in this country.
In this time and this year, there is an increase in the number of male counterparts that are being certified to carry out midwifery services. In as much as male obstetrician and gynecologists are performing their roles very well, the male midwives are also doing excellently well.
Midwifery is an aspect of general nursing, health in itself, is a multidisciplinary industry.”
According to the first vice president NANNM, Mrs. Margaret Akinsola, currently, 97 per cent of the nurses in Nigeria operate professionally as both nurses and midwives and work as members of the communities where they serve by inculcating the principles to understand and respect culture, the values and religion of the people, and going the extra mile to familiarize with the peculiar issues confronting the communities to help save mothers and children both at childbirth and in their growing years.
Akinsola, who doubles as the Chairman Midwifery sector of NANNM, told Inside Abuja that men taking up the profession as midwives was most welcome, especially at a time when there is need to increase the number of health workers including midwives, to tackle the growing health challenges in the areas of sexual reproductive health, birth deliveries, prevention of mother to child transmission of infections and communicable diseases, family planning and counselling as well as post abortion care.
She argued that access to skilled midwives could “help reduce and prevent the deaths of more than 287,000 women at child birth, and also drastically reduce those left with morbidities as a result of birth injuries.
It will also reduce the 2.7 million newborns who die within the first 28 days of life either because they don’t have mothers or as a result of birth injuries.
“Though there is a global critical shortage of 3.5 million health workers, however, if the midwives that are trained within this country are automatically absorbed, well equipped, supported with needed materials and equipment to work with, well remunerated with adequate provision of social amenities, especially those at the rural areas; the issue of maternal and child death would be drastically reduced,” she said.