Nigerian government to improve health system for midwives

Gloria Essien, Abuja

The Nigerian minister of health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has assured midwives in the country that government is working towards providing them with a better working environment.

The minister was speaking at an event to mark the International Day of the Midwives, held in Abuja.

The minister said that human resources for health issues in Nigeria contributes to poor population health in the country and that most health workers prefer to work in the urban areas, thereby living those in the rural areas to suffer untold hardship.

“Health inequities within Nigeria mirrors the geographical disparities in human resources for health distribution and are worsen by emigration of Nigerian nurses to developed countries such as United States and the United Kingdom. Nigerian nurses are motivated to migrate to work in healthier environments, improved their economic prospects and advance their careers,’’ the minister said.

Prof. Adewole pointed out that the Nigerian health system will be revamped to cater for the needs of all Nigerians irrespective of location and social status.

On the issue of disparity amongst health workers, the minister said “I must emphasise that this administration views industrial harmony as a panacea to improving the healthcare indices, improving patients confidence in the healthcare system thereby stemming the alarming rate of medical tourism’’

The minister therefore urged the midwives to reciprocate government’s gesture by rededicating themselves to their duties and to shun any situation that would cause them to abandon their duties to patients.

The National Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Mrs Margaret Akinsola, urged the government to urgently look into the issue of disparity that causes disunity amongst health workers in the country.

She said that the celebration of the International Day of Midwives demonstrates the significance of the roles played by midwives in the area of maternal and child health globally.

She also called for a better working environment, adequate working tools and welfare.

On her part, Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, extoled the qualities of midwives and urged governments to invest in the midwives.

”As the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives, I understand that midwives do far more just deliver babies, as they are the first hands to hold and the first eyes to see a baby.

They are also the closest healthcare workers who work closely with mothers before pregnancy, during pregnancy and the postnatal period. As a result, they play a major role in creating an enabling environment for mental and physical health of the mother and baby’.’

Hence midwives are strategically positioned to detect, report and act hands on in the implementation of policies that will help improve maternal and child health outcomes. It Is for this reason that I advocate for an increased coverage of midwives globally. This is primarily because a 25% increase in midwives could reduce the global maternal mortality indices by 50%,’’ she said.

Mrs Saraki added that if midwives are properly treated, it will lead to a better birth and society.

A special guest at the occasion, Senator Dino Melaye, promised that the Nigerian senate would quickly pass any bill aimed at improving the welfare of health workers in Nigeria, particularly midwives.

The United Nations Fund for Population Activities, is one of the major supporters of the Midwifery scheme in Nigeria.

Speaking on the occasion, the UNFPA Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Eugene Kongnyuy, said that the agency will continue to invest in Nigerian midwives education, as well as assist the Nigerian government in training midwives.

He added that the UNFPA is also renewing its commitment to upgrading midwives schools in Nigeria.

The theme for the 2017 International Day of the Midwife is ‘’Strengthening Midwifery Preservice Training in Nigeria: Midwives, Mothers and families: Partners for life’’