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Calls to revisit midwifery

Many nursing students are forced to study midwifery, resulting in a high rate of negligent midwives, a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) study has revealed.

The ministry of health and other stakeholders always encourage pregnant women to go for pre-natal care and deliver at health facilities under the watchful eye of medical experts, to reduce the risk of complications and infections during labour and delivery.

According to Farida Shah, a consultant who conducted the study, many nursing students said the system had forced them to take up midwifery (even as an elective subject) despite not being passionate about it.

“I think Lesotho needs to strengthen national task forces, develop national midwifery education and increase the length of the midwifery education programme in accordance with to the ICM guidelines in next 5-10 years.

“Lesotho’s midwifery industry is faced with poor clinical teaching or supervision, and no licensure examination for midwifes due to lack of structure in service training.

“Even instructors are unable to teach new graduates work because they themselves do not have enough training. The recommendations we have made in this survey include improving clinical teaching of students and staffing in maternity settings, as well as allowing a full scope of practice and provide sufficient equipment and supplies,” Shah said.

These and other issues dominated proceedings at a recent midwifery gap analysis validation meeting held in Maseru.

UNFPA Representative to Lesotho, Marc Derveeuw, lauded the meeting, which was aimed at improving midwifery programmes in the country.

“First let me commend Lesotho for making good progress in some important indicators towards reducing maternal mortality where. A 2014 research indicates that 95 percent of women who gave birth received antenatal care (ANC) from a skilled provider and about 74 percent of these women had four or more ANC visits; approximately 77 percent of births occurred in a health facility, with the majority of births (61 percent) attended by a nurse/midwife,” Derweeuw said.

At the same occasion, the ministry of health’s general director Dr ‘Nyane Letsie said midwifery is very close to her heart and that the UNFPA survey will jog the ministry to make changes to make sure the betterment of midwifery in the country.

“The recommendations that we heard are challenging us to make sure we don’t force people to study midwifery. We need people who are passionate about this industry so they can give it their all.

“The ministry of health will look into the UNFPA recommendations and make sure we prepare Lesotho for a better future as midwifery is a core health service.”

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