On Saturday, May 5, 2018, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) rewarded 14 midwives for their hard work.
The midwives were selected for the awards as part of activities to mark this year’s International Day of the Midwife held in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
The Ministry of Health and the midwifery associations have developed a criteria for the selection and each year, deserving midwives from each region and the four teaching hospitals are honoured on this significant day celebrated by midwives.
UNFPA started awarding the midwives since 2006 but it was limited to student midwives, using the licentia exams as the criteria. In 2016, the UN agency added practising midwives.
This year, the UNFPA presented refrigerators and citations to the award winners.
The UNFPA Representative in Ghana, Mr Niyi Ojuolape, who handed over the awards underscored the critical role of midwives.
“Midwives save lives, support and promote healthy families. It is for this reason that the Ministry of Health and the midwifery associations, with support from the UNFPA, introduced the recognition of practising midwives nationwide in 2006 and presents them with an award to show our appreciation for the good work they continue to do,” he said.
He emphasised that midwives did more than just deliver babies. “When well trained and supported, midwives can provide more than 87 per cent of all sexual and reproductive health services, including caring for mothers and babies throughout pregnancy and childbirth, providing contraceptives, managing sexually transmitted infections including HIV and more,” he added.
Mr Ojuolape pointed out that the UNFPA was convinced that equitable distribution of midwives across the country would help improve quality of care for those in the hinterland.
This is because improving the quality of care around the time of birth is the most impactful strategy for reducing stillbirths, maternal and neonatal deaths.
He observed that far too many women still lacked access to sexual and reproductive health services. As a result, 319 women out of every 100,000 live births die during pregnancy and childbirth in Ghana and 25 babies out of every 1,000 live births do not survive the first month of life.
Most of these lives could be saved by the life-saving care of well-trained midwives, he stressed.
Ghana, he noted, had embraced the path to Universal Health Coverage, adding that human resource was a key component in achieving this; thus, the production of adequate and appropriate health workforce such as midwives was critical.
“Equally important is the equitable distribution of such workforce to cover areas where they are most needed. For example, the Holistic Assessment Report shows that the Volta Region has the lowest geography equity in skilled deliveries, hence the need for practical and innovative solutions to address the skewed distribution of the health workforce across the regions,” the UNFPA representative emphasised.
Invest in midwifery education
Mr Ojuolape stressed that the country had an unprecedented opportunity to focus on the power of midwives to drive progress and transformation if increased investments were made to address midwifery education and equitable distribution across the country.
It was for this reason, he stated, that since 2008, the UNFPA had worked with partners to support the training of midwives, strengthened national midwifery associations and helped enhance the regulatory framework for midwifery practice to ensure accountability, as well as supported the development of the National Midwifery Strategy 2018-2021 to maintain the standards of midwifery care.
The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, who was the guest of honour for the occasion, said the theme for the occasion: “Midwives, Leading the way to quality care” could not have come at any better time than now as Ghana was doing its best possible to ensure that basic quality health services were accessible to all mothers and babies through the hands of competent and highly motivated midwives.
She commended all midwives for the continuous and relentless efforts in making sure that mothers and babies received quality midwifery care, and the awardees for emerging from their various regions and the teaching hospitals as the best midwives for 2018.
“You now have a herculean task to work harder to again justify the award. I wish to recommend to the ministry to provide scholarship opportunities for the awardees to study short courses abroad to sharpen their skills in midwifery and neonatal care,” the First lady added.