Equipping midwives to transform workplaces and end preventable maternal and child deaths

Sarah McKee

Project Associate

Midwifery is a key part of the puzzle to ensuring the effective provision of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) services worldwide. If midwives were properly trained and deployed, they could deliver up to 87% of the world’s necessary MNCH health services according to the 2014 State of the World’s Midwifery Report.

Recognizing this gap, Management Sciences for Health and Amref Health Africa, under the USAID-funded Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project, worked together to design a program to increase availability to quality MNCH service provision. The LMG Project designed the LMG for Midwifery Managers program as a certificate course for practicing midwives to improve their leadership, management, and governance skills and address workplace challenges.

In Kenya, one trained Victor Omido applied his new skills to combat the negative perceptions of midwifery services in the Kilungu Sub-County Hospital where he worked. In Kilungu, community members did not fully appreciate the level of professional expertise of the Kilungu midwives, or the procedures available at the facility. As a result, there were only 30 deliveries by skilled birth attendants (SBAs) a month at the clinic. To address this challenge, Victor initiated a weekly community outreach program called “Know Your Kilungu Midwife,” to increase the facility’s visibility and engage the community to learn more about services available. After 6 months, deliveries by SBAs at the health facility had more than doubled to 65 per month.

In Mtwara, Tanzania, at the Mikindani Health Center, Jerry Thomas worked to engage males in antenatal care to improve maternal health outcomes. Initiating a leaflet campaign encouraging male accompaniment, Jerry also offered a maternal health workshop to men in the community to improve knowledge and dialogue. Before this campaign, only two men a month accompanied their partners during first antenatal care visits. Within five months, the health center was seeing ten accompanied visits a month. Men, as partners, husbands, and fathers, often control allocation of money, transportation, women’s workload and access to health services, family planning and use of contraceptives. Male involvement is essential in ensuring that pregnant women have access to the care that they need when they need it.

These stories of midwifery managers demonstrate the impact that leadership, management, and governance skills such as resource mobilization and stakeholder engagement have on the delivery of health services. On April 11th, International Day for Maternal Health and Rights, we must celebrate midwives and their efforts t0 provide maternal services to those who need it most.

Photo Credit: Mark Tuschman