Answering the Call for More Nigerian Midwives

Amanda Puckett“The world needs more midwives now more than ever,” said the Honorable Minister of Health of Nigeria, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate. On May 6, Pate was joined by stakeholders and international development partners, including CapacityPlus/Nigeria’s Chief of Party Sam Ngobua, to celebrate the 2013 International Day of Midwives.

Hosted by the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives and the Commission for Professional Midwives of Nigeria, the celebration featured the Honorable Minister of Health Pate, who encouraged women to take up the profession of midwifery and develop interests in maternal advocacy at all levels.

Nigeria needs more midwives
Increasing the numbers of midwives is especially important in Nigeria. The country ranks 12th in the world in having the highest under-five mortality rates and also has a high maternal mortality ratio of 840 deaths per 100,000 live births. Nigeria also has one of the fastest growing populations in the world with a fertility rate of 5.7 children per woman.

There is a significant shortage of health professionals in the country, aggravated by maldistribution of the health workers along the urban-rural divide. It is a fact that a well-supported midwifery workforce is an essential component to reduce mortality rates and help Nigeria meet the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

Providing support for more high-quality midwives
With support from USAID, CapacityPlus is answering the call, not only to increase the number of new midwives throughout Nigeria, but also to ensure that they receive high-quality training. CapacityPlus has been working intensively with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria over the last several months to support the production of new, qualified midwives and improve the learning environment at midwifery schools across the country. CapacityPlus is also supporting the council to track licensures of nurses and midwives in the country through iHRIS Qualify.

Samuel NgobuaAt the recent celebration of the International Day of Midwives, Ngobua presented a goodwill message. He spoke to the crowd about the project’s activities, including the scholarship award for 154 midwives earlier this year and plans to support up to 1500 additional midwifery students with either scholarships or bursaries or both in the coming months. Ngobua also highlighted what the project is doing to provide support to midwifery schools in Nigeria, including providing training equipment and textbooks and working with the Federal Ministry of Health to support training of trainer workshops to improve faculty knowledge and skills. The project also plans to expand its direct institutional support to additional midwifery schools later this year.

Finalizing his goodwill message, Ngobua concluded that “CapacityPlus started as a true friend of the midwifery profession, we are still a true friend, and we’ll continue to be a true friend.” Ngobua said he was encouraged by the response he received: “I was marveled by an awesome ovation from the audience.”

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Photo 1 of Amanda Puckett by Jennifer Solomon. Photo 2 courtesy of Samuel Ngobua