KARACHI: Another batch of 340 community midwives from across the province took oath at a ceremony on Friday with the inspiration to play their complementary roles in the care of the poor and marginalised pregnant women under the Sindh government’s maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) programme.
This was the third batch of midwives, who were tested for the award of a diploma after 18 months of relevant training by the Sindh Nursing Examination Board.
The ceremony, which marked the celebrations of the International Midwifery Day as well, was attended by president of International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Frances Day-Strik and Country Representative of UNFPA Rabbi Royan.
Speaking as a chief guest, Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmad held the trained and skilled labour attendants the backbone of the pregnant woman and child healthcare system and talked about various incentives and support from the government side.
Some of the community midwives (CMWs) said that they passed their qualification examination in September last, but were still, like the second batch of MCWs, waiting for their certificates, government licence and delivery kits to start their home-based birth clinic or move in the community without sparing any time.
“What we have learnt despite our social and cultural constraints could go waste if we fail to apply our education and knowledge and training practically,” observed one midwife, who had come from Badin for the ceremony.
“At least matriculation is the basic requirement for enrolment of the CMW training,” said another midwife, adding that their marriages and maintaining a family life could also be a reason for not continuing their community job for long and as such it would be good that the MNCH programme moved fast for their placement.
The International Midwifery Day was organised by the National MNCH prograame of Sindh in collaboration with the UNFPA.
Acknowledging the role of CMWs, the health minister said that it was due to their support that none of the pregnant women who were camped at various places in the province after the 2010 and 2011 floods and rains died.
“We feel that the initiatives undertaken under the MNCH prograame and the true utilization of the CMWs would certainly help reducing the maternal and child mortality and morbidities in the province,” he added. He said that in all, 2,000 CMWs were being prepared to work as a taskforce and a useful tool, particularly in the areas where literacy rate was low and the people had sanitation and hygiene problems.
Ms Day-Strik of the ICM said that every woman across the globe deserved quality and competent midwifery services and the CMWs had a pivotal role in the development of countries, while the government had a great role to play for their education and subsequent placements.
Mr Rayon of the UNFPA said that the CMWs saved lives and made the maternal and child life safe. Pakistan had an alarming rate of maternal and children up to five deaths, which could be attributed to the shortage of the skilled delivery attendants, he said and assured the UNFPA supported the CMWs in the beginning of their career at the community level.
Dr Rafat Jan of the Aga Khan University highlighted the issues and challenges and status of the CMWs in Sindh. She stressed the need for proper education and regulation of the CMWs, improvement of the structure and governance at the government midwife and nursing training schools across the province and creation of a regular government cadre of the CMWs.
Dr Sahib Jan Badar of the Sindh MNCH, Sindh Health Director-General Dr Feroze Memon, Dr Shabbir A Chandio of the UNFPA also spoke, while Mrs Imtiaz Kamal administered the oath to new CMWs.
Gold medals, shields and certificates were handed over to meritorious students and the principals of various training institutions.
Ms Aisha of the Public Health School, Karachi, and Farha un Nissa of received gold medals for obtaining positions at the Sindh Nursing Examination Board. The Nursing Midwifery School Thatta, Midwifery School Hala and Midwifery School Jamkanda also received the shields for good performance in the CMW training.