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Celebrating Uganda’s midwives: UNFPA pledges continued support for Midwifery Services

8 May 2018
Hon Rebecca Kadaga is received by UNFPA Representative Mr. Alain Sibenaler and Swedish Ambassador H.E per Lingarde at the national commemoration of International day of the Midwife in jinja district as midwives cheer in the background. PHOTO: UNFPA/Martha Songa

Smartly turned out in their neat uniforms complete with starched caps and belts, over 500 midwives converged at Jinja Secondary School in Jinja district to commemorate the International Day of the Midwife on May 5 2018. Held under the theme Midwives Leading the Way with Quality Care, the event was organised by the Ministry of Health in partnership with UNFPA and the Embassy of Sweden.

Mr. Alain Sibenaler, the UNFPA Representative, expressed heartfelt appreciation to the midwives in attendance for the dedicated service they provide despite the many challenges they face.  “Midwives are front and centre when it comes to providing skilled and compassionate care for women, newborn infants and families,” he said.  

Mr. Sibenaler appreciated the leadership of the Ministry of Health and support from the Government of Sweden towards initiatives to strengthen midwifery services including training. With support from the Government of Sweden, UNFPA Uganda has supported training of 567 midwives between 2010 and 2017.

The Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, who was the Guest of Honour at the event challenged Members of Parliament and the Ministry of Health to take action and revisit the ban on recruitment of health workers, which she said is hurting quality of service delivery in the sector. Hon. Kadaga noted that the country’s growing population demands additional recruitment in order to have sufficient numbers of midwives and other health workers.

Uganda has recorded gains in reducing maternal mortality; from 506 deaths per 100, 000 live births to 336 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2001 and 2017. The presence of midwives at health facilities has contributed significantly to these results.  However, midwives continue to face a number of challenges that constrain their efforts to provide high quality care including heavy workload, inadequate remuneration, poor working conditions, inadequate availability of essential drugs and supplies in health facilities and limited opportunities for professional and career growth.

Mr. Sibenaler emphasized the need for more efforts to support midwives to provide the highest standards of care. “We need to invest in recruitment of already-trained midwives and deploy them especially in hard to reach areas. We need to strengthen midwifery education initiatives: Investing in midwifery education is a ‘best buy’ that can yield a 16-fold return on investment in terms of lives saved,” he said.

To cheers from the midwives in attendance, Mr. Sibenaler re-affirmed UNFPA’s commitment to work with midwives, the Ministry of Health and other partners to improve the working conditions of midwives and ensure an enabling environment to enable them provide women the quality and dignified care they deserve.

The Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda His Excellency Per Lindgarde commended the midwives for their hard work often under challenging circumstances. He also highlighted the critical role the midwives play in ensuring high quality sexual and reproductive health and maternal health and pledged continued support of the Swedish government to strengthen midwifery services.

 

By Martha Songa