The joy of bringing home a new baby. First steps. Graduations. Marriages. Grandchildren. Through assisting mothers and babies safely through the birth process, midwives help make life’s moments happen.
The Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) is committed to expanding access to high-quality midwifery throughout Malawi, so that more moms and babies can experience more of life’s precious moments.
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, was asked the question: “Does the world have enough midwives?” Her response was emphatic and urgent: “We need more midwives, we need more midwives, we need more midwives!” Despite that the field of midwifery has been “long-neglected” and given insufficient respect within healthcare settings, Chan noted that midwives are crucial in any healthcare system due to their ability to deliver high-quality maternal care.
Studies have shown that when midwives are effectively integrated into medical and public health systems, maternal and newborn deaths are reduced rapidly and sustainably. Yet the benefits of a larger midwifery workforce are not limited to health — they are economic. Investing in the training, employment and empowerment of midwives yields substantial returns; as Margaret Chan herself reflected, “a well-trained motivated, and respected midwifery workforce brings a more efficient use of resources” to the health sector.
Midwifery is not just in the interest of the communities that will benefit from services, but is in the best interests of policy-makers. As Margaret Chan commented, studies have shown that the promotion of midwifery and the empowerment of midwives within healthcare decision-making “brings a welcome shift from the previous focus on provision of life-saving interventions, to a focus on preventing life-threatening conditions in the first place.”
Giving birth in Malawi is one of the most dangerous things a woman or baby could do. 1 in 26 Malawian women will die in childbirth in their lifetimes.Childbirth and life’s first 7 days claim 2.4% of Malawian newborns, and almost 5% of infants do not survive their first year. One of the main reasons for the deadly nature of birth in Malawi is what has been described as a“severe shortage of maternity care professionals.”
Malawi, therefore, has much to benefit from expanding the quantity, quality and integration of midwifery care into our training colleges and health facility services. As a leader in the healthcare field and the largest non-governmental healthcare provider in Malawi, the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) has taken a stand that midwives matter, and is committed to expanding midwifery to rural and underserved populations throughout Malawi.
Each year, we at CHAM grow our commitment to midwifery. In 2015, we graduated 642 midwives from our 11 training colleges. In less than 5 years, our graduating classes of midwives have nearly doubled. Our incoming class this year is almost 1,000 students strong!
CHAM also employs midwives with diverse levels of training in our 170+ health facilities. CHAM facilities are renowned throughout Malawi for their high-quality maternal care and delivery services. Within these facilities, CHAM midwives work on care teams with nurses, doctors, clinical officers, and other healthcare practitioners, working tirelessly to increase Malawian communities’ access to high-quality maternal care.
Thanks to the partnership of organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, KfW Bankengruppe, Norwegian Church Aid, PAI,USAID and more, CHAM has also increased the number of its facilities which employ and utilize midwifery services, promoted access to and utilization of of life-saving maternal care medicines, improved and expanded nurse and midwife training, and constructed and modernized maternity wings. High-quality, affordable maternal care has never been more accessible in Malawi.
Midwives save lives, enrich the birth experience and protect our mothers and children. We at CHAM hope today, on the International Day of the Midwife, we can all reflect upon and recognize the critical role of midwives locally and globally — not just in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our health systems, but in the survival of our mothers and babies.
Midwives matter, to Malawians and people across the world. Midwifery has helped countless people — perhaps your mother, your partner, maybe even you —to have the privilege of living beyond birth and experiencing life’s moments in full.
Nurses at Trinity College of Nursing and Midwifery.
Photo Source: NHS
Trinity College of Nursing and Midwifery under Chikwawa Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church has graduated 58 Nursing Midwifery Technicians (NMTs) as well as 25 Community Midwifery Assistants (CMAs). The graduation took place at the Trinity College Campus in Nsanje on Saturday April 16, 2016.
A representative of the group Maria Francisco, who graduated as a Community Midwifery Assistant, said she and her fellow graduates are all ready and willing to work in rural areas to help the government in the quest to reduce maternal deaths and save the lives of as many babies as possible.
“A lot of efforts have been invested in our training. If the government does not employ us, all this effort will be in vain. There are no private maternities in rural areas, people rely on government. We are ready to work even in rural areas that is what we were trained for,” she noted.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the guest of honour, acting Deputy Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services in the Ministry of Health, Mrs. Lucy Mkutumula, said government is committed to employ all the graduates once they pass interviews either in government or in health facilities under the Christian Health Association of Malawi, CHAM.
“The recruitment plan has already been submitted to the relevant authorities and there are numerous vacancies requiring more than the numbers that are being produced,” said Mkutumula.
Mkutumula however informed the graduates that recruitment modalities in government have changed and that now unlike before when they were employed straight from school, the graduates will have to undergo interviews before being employed. This, she said, is meant to deal with ghost workers who find their way into the public health service system.
Mkutumula urged the nurses and midwives to uphold their professional ethics and values that they have learnt during training. “I am aware that the general public has been complaining about the conduct of some health workers including nurses and midwives. Nursing and midwifery are noble and caring professions, you should therefore give safe and timely care to your patients and clients at all times as guided by the professional ethics that you have learnt at this college.”
Acting Principal for Trinity College of Nursing and Midwifery Fanny Stevens said the college was proud to graduate such a large number of nurses and midwives. Stevens asked the graduates to work hard out in the field just as they did in class and to be good ambassadors for Trinity College of Nursing and Midwifery.
However, Stevens noted the shortage of staff at the college, appealing for support from government and all stakeholders. “The government is our main sponsor and has been assisting us in many ways that ensure teaching and learning is possible. Trinity College is hard to reach because of its geographical location. It is for this reason that it is difficult to retain staff,” she said.
Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) Training Manager Mrs. Grace Soko, said the organisation is proud to have such a huge number of nurses and midwives graduate at once like this. “Our hope is to have as many students as possible graduate in nursing and midwifery, so that the patient-health worker ratio continues to decrease in the country especially in rural areas,’ Soko said. Soko also noted the challenge in terms of the number of staff at Trinity College and indicated that as CHAM they are exploring ways to address it.
Meanwhile, at the ceremony, Trinity Hospital was also appreciative of the continued support from partners from CHAM, USAID, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), the Ministry of Health and the management of Nsanje district hospital. CHAM Training Manager Soko also expressed gratitude for the continued support of partners of CHAM in training nurses and midwives in Malawi:
The group of 83 nurses and midwives is the largest to graduate from the college since it started in 1964. Its first graduating class consisted of only 2 students.
Trinity College is one of 11 colleges within the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM).
Post by Priscilla Zikapanda
A joint graduation ceremony for the nurses, midwives, and other clinicians graduating from some of CHAM's affiliate schools.
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