In a mini-blog series ICM is highlighting the role of midwives in family planning. The series continues with a guest blog from Women and Health Alliance (WAHA), written by Eric Otieno, WAHA’s Medical Coordinator in Somalia, and Kate Leisner, WAHA’s Communications Specialist.
In the struggle to increase midwifery worldwide, education and training are invariably at the forefront. Efforts to support midwives can only take root once quality education is integrated into the agenda. In underserved countries where maternal mortality is highest, midwife education is most pressing. Training a well-equipped and durable force of midwives will lead to safe and reliable maternal care in the regions that need it most. For these reasons, WAHA International has partnered with the UNFPA and Somalia’s Ministry of Health to create the Mogadishu Midwifery School.
Due to economic distress and internal turmoil, Somalia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 1,044 deaths per 100,000 live births. To lower these looming mortality rates, the Mogadishu Midwifery School is providing comprehensive and advanced training to midwives. The school was opened in July 2012 and offers an 18-month program to certified nurses. The curriculum, 30% theory and 70 % practical training, will fully equip the students with the required midwifery skills they need to serve the women and children of their communities. It was developed by UNFPA in conjunction with the Ministry of Health of Somalia. The school is headed by Hawa Abdullahi Elmi, a locally trained midwife who completed a post-basic diploma in medical education in Kenya, and four tutors. Subjects studied include postnatal and newborn complications and pharmacology applied to midwifery. All students also take English classes. Practical training in Banadir Hospital was completed by the first intake of students in January 2013 and the second session is set to begin on May 11th.
As costly education is often unobtainable in underserved countries, WAHA recognizes the need to provide financial support and admits the students free of charge. Each student is fully provided for and receives two pairs of uniforms, text books, medical dictionaries, exercise books and pens. They are also given accommodation in the school and have meals prepared for them. Each month, students receive a $100 stipend for their personal use.
Upon graduation, it is hoped that the students will be absorbed into government facilities in all parts of Somalia as well as training institutions to further increase the pool of skilled birth attendants. The Mogadishu Midwifery School is filling the gap between women and quality healthcare and will create an ever-expanding task force of educated midwives. This will go a long way in alleviating maternal and neonatal mortality in a country ravaged by war for more than 20 years.
About WAHA International: Started in 2009 at the initiative of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al-Nahyan, Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International is a non-profit organization working to ensure maternal and neonatal healthcare in underserved countries. Through partnerships with midwife associations, university teaching hospitals, medical specialists, and health authorities, WAHA has served women and children in over 20 countries.