By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – In order to fast-track the reduction of maternal mortality and infant death in Nigeria, the United Nations Population Fund, UNPFA, and the wife of the Senate President, Toyin Saraki, have advocated for improved working conditions for midwives in the country.
Dr. Diene Keita, the UNFPA country representative, made the call on Tuesday at a conference organised by the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, NANNM, to commemorate the 2018 World Midwives Day in Abuja.
Keita, who noted that there were too many deaths among Nigeria women during childbirth, advocated the provision of enabling environment for midwives so that they can better serve the needs of expectant mothers and their families.
“Today, we celebrate the heroic lifesaving work midwives do each day. There are far too many deaths among women trying to give birth in Nigeria. According to statistics, about 111 women die each day.
“Against that backdrop, we are advocating for radical policy framework on working conditions to ensure effective deployment and retention of well trained midwives in communities.
“We must also highlight the women-sensitive care midwives provide in families towards preventing maternal and child deaths as well as disabilities by empowering mothers to make healthy and right choices which is key to the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.
“To make this happen, I reiterate that we need to maintain highest global standards and promote enabling environment for midwives to serve the needs of women and their families.
“I enjoin governments at all levels and development partners to support midwives so that more women can survive during childbirth,” Keita said.
On her part, Saraki, who is a global ambassador for midwifery services, maintained that midwives can actually lead the way in quality care provision within the health sector especially at the grassroots, if they are given better working conditions.
“I wish we could go back to the time when we recruited, trained and equipped about 4,000 midwives before drafting them to rural areas. That move alone caused the rate of maternal and infant deaths to drop by 40 percent.
“I believe that with the recruitment of more midwives, better training and improved working condition for them, we can go along way in reducing deaths among women during childbirth,” Mrs Saraki said.
Earlier, the National President, Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Comrade Abdulrafiu Adeniji, lamented the recent upward surge in the rate of maternal and child deaths in the country, blaming it on the ongoing strike by hospital workers.
He therefore called on the federal government to do the needful towards ensuring that the industrial action by Joint Health Workers Union, JOHESU, is called off.
“I am not happy that a country endowed with enormous resources would suffer industrial action in the health sector for up to three weeks. I call on the federal government to do all it can to ensure that health professionals are comfortable so that they can go back to their work of providing quality healthcare services to the people,” he said.