By Meluse Kapatamoyo
Midwives play a pivotal role in reducing maternal and child deaths. Unfortunately, inadequate numbers of these essential health workers remains a challenge in most health institutions around the country especially those in rural areas.
However, some health centres like the Kalabo District Hospital located 70 kilometers from Mongu in Western Province are one of the few institutions lucky enough to have midwives to help with deliveries.
Since graduating in 2012, 27-year-old Anifield Siandabile has delivered more than 200 women, helping fill the gap of midwives at the hospital.
The training covers the child, mother and all the complications a woman may face when she is pregnant, during labour and six weeks after delivery, a time when complications are most common.
"On an individual level, compared to the knowledge I had before and after the training, I am on another level. It has helped me handle a lot of complicated cases that I would otherwise wait for the doctor to attend to, putting the life of the woman and her child in danger in situations when the doctor was unavailable. For example, in cases of prolonged labour, I am able to do various procedures without calling for a doctor,” explains Anifield.
Almost two years down the line, Anifield recommends that the training should not only be restricted to midwives but be extended to all nurses and health care providers as they too encounter emergency situations involving pregnant women.
“If the EMOC training is extended, I believe the country will see a further decrease in women dying from child birth because all health workers will be equipped and procedures to stop complications such as bleeding will easily be done.”
He said due to various interventions such as the introduction of a Health Adversity Committee, which involves traditional leaders in issues pertaining to maternal health and the presence of an ambulance donated by UNFPA, Kalabo district hospital had recorded an increase in women delivering at the institution.According to the 2013 Kalabo District Medical Office Report on Communication for Development (C4D), although Kalabo district faces a challenge of low coverage’s when it comes to some Maternal and Child Health Indicators, institutional deliveries increased from 52 percent in 2012 to 64 percent in 2013.
"With the health adversity team in place, the message is getting to women that when they fall sick, they should rush to the rural health centre and if the nurse available is unable to handle to the problem, the hospital then sends an ambulance is sent to bring the patient to the hospital. But I still emphasise that all health workers be trained in EMOC because sometimes the hospital has challenges with fuel, “said Anifield. PYM