Kenya makes fruitful strides on midwifery
The country has made notable steps in the recognition of midwives as a stand-alone discipline in medicine. Boniface Mutisya, a senior midwife at Kenyatta National Hospital says since the launch of the midwives association in 2016, the profession has grown both in numbers and in quality of services.
Today, Amref International University, Masinde Muliro University and Aga Khan International University offer Bachelor of Arts courses in midwifery, a step Mutisya says is a huge boost to the profession. “This is a great milestone. It requires a lot of skill and its very involving to effectively take care of mother and the baby. You have to be somebody who has passion. If mothers trust you, be sure to get a good outcome. If they don’t trust you, regardless of your skills, there will be gaps,” says Mutisya who is also the representative of all midwives in the Nursing Council of Kenya.
The challenge of covid-19, he adds, has seen many mothers shun hospitals, a trend that is likely to see a drop in hospital deliveries. In the curfew rules, Mutisya says the government overlooked the need for free movement of pregnant mothers. A good referral system as well as an effective insurance scheme, he says, will see a huge reduction of maternal mortality in the country.
According to Dr Ademola Olajide, UNFPA Representative to Kenya, midwives play a critical role in responding to public health emergencies like Covid-19. “They are essential to the strong, resilient health systems we need to survive the corona virus. It is imperative not to jeopardize essential sexual and reproductive health services by diverting midwives to serve as emergency personnel,” says Ademola.
UNFPA Kenya contributed to the amendment of the Nurses Act to include Midwifery, an ongoing process that will see a change in the current Council to read Nursing and Midwifery Council. This grants powers and motivation to the midwifery practice.
Currently UNFPA has procured 90 birth models to equip the skills labs in midwifery schools in 30 counties in the country. This is to enhance the skills and knowledge of trainee midwives to manage and conduct normal deliveries – a contribution to reducing unnecessary cesarean sections.
In Kenya, over 5,000 women and girls lose their lives due to preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Experts believe that over 85 percent of these can be prevented with well-trained, skilled, motivated and supported midwives.