KARACHI: Highlighting the role of midwives in the improvement of maternal health, senior health professionals on Friday urged the government to ensure a significant increase in the number of health workers equipped with midwifery skills in the country.
Speaking at a press conference, they said that trained midwives could not only make pregnancies normal and safer, but also timely identify complications, if there were any, that needed medical specialists’ intervention, particularly in rural areas.
The press conference, which was led by Dr Shershah Syed, was held in connection with the launch of a teleplay on maternal health produced by Tehrik-i-Niswan in collaboration with the Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health (PNFWH) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The executive producer of the play, Sheema Kermani of Tehrik-i-Niswan, said that the play “Maen Jioungi Sar Utha Kay” depicting the story of a fistula patient had been shot at different hospitals and health institutions.
She said that artists in the teleplay observed sufferings of women with obstetric complications and their handling by their families and medical care staff and would be seen interacting with real gynaecologists and midwives in a real environment and health infrastructure.
She said that the teleplay was linked with the overall status of women in the country and presented trained midwives as a role model in averting maternal disabilities, including obstetric fistula.
“We have planned to have a review launch of the teleplay on July 30 at the Arts Council of Pakistan to get input from medical experts and social scientists so that we can amend the content and presentation of the play further, following which efforts will be made to get the play telecast on the state TV and private television channels and have a good number of CDs prepared for its distribution,” she said.
Dr Faria Ahsan, UNFPA programme officer on reproductive health, said that the UNFPA was associated with the teleplay project since its inception and would also extend necessary support to it as it believed that maternal health issues needed to be addressed on priority basis, particularly in the developing countries.
Dr Shershah, who is also the president of the PNFWH, expressed dissatisfaction over the existing status maternal health and situation of midwifery training in the country.
He said that despite millions and billions of rupees investment in the maternal healthcare sector, situation had not improved significantly, adding that women were still dying in childbirth and suffering pregnancy associated complications, including genital fistula.
He said that there was a dire need to check the working of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and the Pakistan Nursing Council.
“Pakistan needs an increasing force of nurses, midwives and paramedics to face the challenges of primary and secondary health care. However, the people at the helm are just busy in producing thousands of glorified MBBS quacks majority of whom are ladies not pursuing the medical profession for any practical and public welfare purposes.”
He said that in Sindh about 3,300 doctors were being produced on yearly basis, while the number of male nurses was 570, female nurses 553, midwives 533 and just 185 lady health workers each year.
“A country like us, in fact, needs to see manifold increase in the midwifery force,” he said.
Dr Aziz Khan Tank of the College of Family Medicine said that the health system in the country was nearing to a total collapse.
“We badly need to increase the numbers of midwives, paramedics and nursing staffs to help ease the load from general physicians,” he said.
Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, secretary of the PMA central, said that the PMDC and other responsible institutions were failing to address health issues.
“We need not only to increase the number of appropriately trained midwives, but also to make the nursing and midwives profession respectable in the country on emergency basis, particularly in order to avert their departure and employment in middle-east and other countries.
Imtiaz Kamal, president of the Midwives Association of Pakistan, said that midwives because of their capabilities were considered as real helping hand in the early 10-15 years after the creation of Pakistan.
“We now need to have midwives with specific skills trained by qualified teachers and subject specialists,” she added.
Dr Nighat Shah, secretary of the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Pakistan, said that midwives had a vital role in ensuring a normal delivery.
They worked dedicatedly and were in a unique position to offer something of great value to a woman and her family and children, Dr Nighat added.
According to an estimate, every year over 500,000 women die because of complications during pregnancy and in childbirth worldwide.
At least seven million of women who survive childbirth suffer serious health problems and further 50 million women suffer adverse health consequences after childbirth.