With only 46 percent of deliveries in Liberia assisted by skilled attendants, the United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA has pledged more support to the training of midwives in the country.
“Midwives are crucial in the fight to reduce maternal and newborn deaths. Midwives can prevent up to 90 per cent of maternal deaths if they get all the support and are allowed to practice their competencies and play a full role during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth,” says UNFPA Liberia Representative Ratidzai Ndhlovu.
“The presence of a midwife at birth can mean the difference between life and death,” Ms. Ndhlovu said on 15 January at the presentation of office equipment to the Midwifery Training Program of the Phebe Training School in Suacoco, Bong County.
According to a release, the equipment includes a LaserJet network printer and a heavy duty Canon photocopier. As part of the Phebe Hospital training program, the midwifery school is currently offering two study options: a 3-year direct-entry midwifery course immediately after high school (basic midwifery), and a 2-year nurse-midwifery training program for nurses.
The UNFPA Representative said: “if we encourage pregnant women to deliver at the hospital, we have to ensure that the supply side of the health care delivery system is addressed by producing competent midwives who are able to manage complications and refer as soon as possible those complications that they cannot handle.
She expressed hope that the donated equipment would contribute positively to the learning atmosphere of students of the midwifery training school, saying, “The last time I visited the training facilities, there were lots of students holding old pieces of papers around, copying from textbooks because as they informed me, there was no printing or photocopying facility.”
In his remarks, Bong County Health Officer, Dr. Sampson Arzoaquoi, expressed gratitude to UNFPA for the donation. “We are in the business of going out to seek support from individuals and institutions. A lot of them do not give us the kind of timely response that we have received from UNFPA,” he said.
Dr. Arzoaquoi noted the donation would go a long way in helping to alleviate some of the challenges the students are faced with.
Since the Government of Liberia and partners in March 2011 launched the roadmap for accelerated reduction of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity in the country, a lot of efforts have been put into the training of more midwives. However, according to the Liberia Board of Nursing and Midwifery, by December 2013, there were about 800 midwives available to the population of 3.5 million people; highlighting the urgent need for the training of more midwives.