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15.11.2007 Health

Improve our conditions to attract the young - Midwives

By Daily Graphic
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Speakers at a two-day international conference on midwifery have called for more incentives to attract young people into the midwifery profession.

They said the midwives of today were fast ageing and that unless immediate measures were put in place to attract more young ones into the profession, the fight for the reduction in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity would be a mirage.

The speakers made the call at the just-ended two-day international conference of midwives on the theme, "African Midwives - Uniting to address the reduction of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity".

The conference was under the auspices of the Ghana Registered Midwives Association and the Ministry of Health. It attracted participants from 16 African countries, including South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Benin and Uganda.

Available statistics indicate that there are 2,800 midwives working in the various health facilities in the country and it is feared that 90 per cent of the number will retire from the service in the next two to four years.

This will also create a gap of 3,500 midwives needed to deal with the critical issues of child mortality and morbidity, as there is already a shortfall of 700 midwives in the country.

The ageing population of midwives in the country, therefore, poses a serious threat to the maternal health delivery service in the country.

It is also likely to thwart the government's effort at achieving the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on maternal mortality and infant mortality in the country.

The speakers, who included the Chief Nursing Officer, Mrs May Osei-Addae; Dr Mrs Gloria Quansah Asare, the Chairperson for the occasion, and Professor Angela Sawyer of the Regional Prevention and Maternal Mortality, were unanimous in their call for the release of more resources to enhance the work of midwives across the continent.

Professor Sawyer, who delivered the keynote address, said the number of midwives was fast dwindling, not only in Ghana but on the continent as a whole.

She advised the midwives to ensure that they performed their duties within a clean environment.

"Many a time our environments are not the best so that the babies and their mothers get infected and that aggravates their plight," she added.

Professor Sawyer also bemoaned the rivalry between private and public midwives, which she said was dangerous.

A Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Abraham Dwumoh Odoom, said the government was aware of the challenges the midwifery profession was facing and was working feverishly to have them resolved.

He said, for instance, that "midwifery training is a priority area for the Ministry of Health and for that matter the government of Ghana. This training has been scaled up over the last four years to train more numbers for reproductive health care".

Mr Odoom said the ministry had also instituted policies to enhance career progression and conditions of service for midwives and all other health professionals and that the policies included continuing professional development, fair promotions, opportunities to establish private homes and an improved salary structure.