10,000 Happy Birthdays

ICM, sponsored by Laerdal Global Health, is doing a two year project titled “10,000 Happy Birthdays” with the national midwifery associations in Zambia and Malawi from July 2014 to December 2016.

The project will

  • Train 10 000 midwives and other MNCH  health care providers in Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding After Birth (HMS-BAB) and Helping Babies Breathe (HBB)
  • Facilitate institutionalisation of these skills-training  into pre-service and in-service midwifery education in the two countries
  • Build capacity of the midwives associations, AMAMI and MAZ, to conduct projects of a similar nature in the future

10,000 Happy Birthdays

*Click on the picture above to download the brochure

Synne Holan, Midwife, ICM HQ reports on 10,000 Happy Birthdays 25 August 2015

The 10,000 Happy Birthday project in Zambia and Malawi is moving. Sometimes fast and sometimes more slowly.

In Zambia, the Midwives Association, MAZ, with project coordinator Catherine Sanka and the President Genevieve Musokwa, has really taken the lead and has rolled-out a big number of workshops for Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding after Birth (HMS BAB) and Helping Babies Breath (HBB). They have trained more than 1000 Midwives and other health professionals and they have now 47 Master trainers.

In Malawi the number of workshops are set to increase during fall 2015 when the new Project coordinator will take its functions. The midwives Association, AMAMI, has an active group of 34 Master trainers, who have  been able to reach 900 midwives and other health personnel with HMS BAB. HBB is already incorporated in Nursing and Midwifery Colleges in Malawi.

Who are the people trained?

There are midwifery and nursing students, a few doctors, and medical officers, but most of all midwives, old and young, working in hospitals and clinics. Some have many colleagues, some are working all alone in a health post, far away from any hospital.

I spoke to midwife Peter Musongole from University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. He is an active Master trainer and UTH is the biggest referral hospital in Lusaka. He is also active in training his colleagues in how to handle acute situations for mothers and babies. This on-site training is called Low Dose High Frequency (LDHF) training, and it is important in order to keep your skills and knowledge after the initial training. He said that he sometimes felt that this was “Peter doing training” and not official or strong enough. He said it would be better if more of his colleagues were trained in a more formal workshop first. The good news is that MAZ will have workshops for UTH in August and September!

Midwife Emiliana Lumbundu works in Nthonda Health centre outside Lilongwe, Malawi. She has worked alone for many years, but now she has a young midwife as a colleague. She is going to teach her everything she learned in the workshop arranged by AMAMI in August. Emiliana said that in periods the ambulance covering her clinic did not have any fuel and the woman’s family had no money for transport, she really needed all the skills that were taught. Sometimes even that is not enough - without a chance for referral, women will die.

Many challenges

In Zambia and Malawi, and many other African countries, there is something called “African Oxytocin”. These are herbs that the women get, or buy, from friends and family. The herb is not the same in each place, it can be roots, bark and/or leaves, all crushed and then given. Many times this will give strong contractions, the cervix is not ready to open and this gives grave side effects as ruptured uterus, stillbirth, bleedings etc.

This is one of many big challenges which is threatening the lives of mothers and newborns. It is very hard to deal with these situations. Until more research is done on the safety and use of these herbs, women should be warned against their use.


YES, we will!

Three experienced midwives from Lilongwe District doing HMS BAB training with AMAMI August 2015., Emiliana Lumbundu, Esnart Maseko and Agnes Kukuwangu.

Master trainer Dr. Henry and a student. Lilongwe HMS BAB Workshop. August 2015

Project coordinator Cathy Sanka (left) from MAZ with midwives Swema Banda, Jessie Mwandila in Kasanda Clinic in Kapiri, Zambia

Photos by S. Holan