UN highlights midwife shortage

Namibia has done well to bring healthcare services closer to the people since independence, including the extension of mother and child healthcare services, but several challenges still remain, Shangula said.

06 May 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

A recent United Nations (UN) report has raised alarm over a global shortage of about 900 000 midwives, saying the appointment of more midwives will significantly reduce maternal mortality and save over four million lives annually.

The State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2021 also points out that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has acerbated this situation as the dire need for midwives or healthcare services for pregnant women and their babies are often overlooked or diverted to other areas of health.

“To close the gap by 2030, 1.3 million new dedicated sexual rights worker posts, mostly midwives and mostly in Africa, need to be created in the next 10 years. At current rates, only 300 000 of these are expected to be created, leaving a projected shortage of one million dedicated sexual rights workers posts by 2030, of which 750 000 will be midwives.”

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday said Namibia has done well to bring healthcare services closer to the people since independence, including the extension of mother and child healthcare services, but several challenges still remain.

According to him, this was extended through the construction of new healthcare facilities as well as through outreach services in rural areas.

“However, the distances to remote communities still remain a challenge despite outreach services at a fixed point,” he said.

PPE struggle

“Namibians are also scattered and this makes it difficult for healthcare workers to reach all people. Therefore, the challenge of transportation of women to fixed locations is still there. We have also trained registered nurses and all of them have been trained in midwifery while some of them have committed their careers to midwifery. Those have increased,” he said.

Meanwhile, the report highlighted that midwives in Namibia and Malawi asked that personal protective equipment (PPE) is allocated fairly between and within healthcare facilities.

These midwives also want their governments and UN agencies to recognise the fear felt by midwives working in healthcare facilities and using PPE by designing guidelines that communicate clearly and provide reassurance.

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