The Midwives Association of Zambia has expressed discontent in government for recruiting a small fraction of midwives in the recent recruitment process of over 11, 000 health workers.
Association President Sarah Ngoma stated that it is disappointing to note that a small fraction of midwives has been recruited compared to other cadres such as Clinical officers, registered nurses and laboratory technicians when the country has a critical shortage of skilled birth attendants.
“We are concerned that only 230 midwives have been recruited out of the 11,276 health workers that have been employed under this exercise,” she said
In a statement issued, Ms Ngoma explained that, according to the State of the World Midwifery Report, Zambia has a gap of 9,000 midwives and currently the woman to Midwife ratio is 1 to 1000 a plight which is unacceptable considering that the country is losing an average of 15 women and more than 60 newborns per week, it is for this reason that the country needs more midwives than nurses.
She added that it is unfortunate that realizing the position in which Zambia is today, the Sustainable Development Goal number 3 which is about ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all including pregnant women of all ages might not be attained by 2030.
She cited that the World Health Organization’s 2030 goal is for every country with high maternal and newborn mortality to reduce to less than 70/per 100,000 live births and at least 5/1000 live births, respectively.
“Zambia’s maternal mortality stands at 278/100,000 live births and neonatal mortality at 27/1000 live births, this is a calamity which requires urgent attention,” she said
Ms Ngoma stated that one of the major contributing factors to these preventable deaths is the shortage of skilled birth attendants, and the country is losing most of these mothers and newborns at the hands of unskilled health providers, therefore, investing in midwives is long overdue and cannot be over-emphasized.
Ms Ngoma emphasized that midwives are not nurses, and nurses are not midwives if they are not trained as a midwife, for a midwife can work alone in a facility and manage both medical/surgical and maternal health conditions which a general nurse cannot do.
“We have observed that those responsible for recruiting are not aware of the difference between a Midwife and a Nurse,” she stated
She explained that as an association championing equity of access to quality maternal health care and Universal Health Coverage, the list of new appointments has been received with regret after observing with dismay how nurses and other health cadres who lack specialization in handling maternal and child-related cases are being employed in greater numbers than midwives.
Ms Ngoma highlighted that it is saddening to note that between January and July 2022, (seven months) the country has recorded 381 maternal deaths and 845 still births yet it is a well-known fact that a lack of skilled birth attendants is a major contributor to these avoidable deaths.
On 29th and 31st July, 2022 the government through the Civil Service Commission and the Ministry of Health recruited and published the names of 11, 276 newly recruited health workers in the Zambia Daily Mail Newspaper and various credible online platforms.