As more Midwives needed to tackle Maternal and Child Mortality, Bo gets new Midwifery School
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with Caritas Bo through support from Quandt Family, BMZ and Action Medeor has officially opened the new School of Midwifery Bo (SOMBO) on Saturday October 21, 2017 at the school’s ground Nyandehun, Bo-Kenema Highway southern Sierra Leone. (An Ariel view of the School of Midwifery Bo)
Declaring the school opened, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mr. David Banya said improving health care delivery to all but particularly to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five for which nurses play a pivotal role is a top priority of the Ministry and the government as a whole.
He informed his audience that sustained effort has been made by the National School of Midwifery in Freetown and the School of Midwifery in Makeni with support from government and partners to train more midwives, stating that the effort in increasing midwives with the competence and commitment to deliver quality, prompt and safe maternity services will undoubtedly save mothers and their newborn children.
Mr. Banya reminded all that the initiative to open the School of Midwifery in Bo is a manifestation of the commitment of Action Medeor working with other partners including Caritas Bo to support government in giving positive effect is commendable.
He maintained that the health indices in Sierra Leone are very encouraging which therefore dictate that the health system requires substantial improvement to address the issues of maternal and infant mortality.
The Permanent Secretary stated that the opening of the school is timely to train more midwives to provide care and support throughout pregnancies and at the birth of babies, and to also create the access to specific educational and consulting services including information on sexual and reproductive health and family planning.
He commended Action Medeor working in partnership with other institutions to open the Midwifery School in Bo, and assured that the Ministry plans to open Midwifery School in the east to add to the existing one in the north and west of the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5.
In her statement, the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Matron Hossinatu Koroma described the inaugural ceremony of the School of Midwifery in Bo (SOMBO) as another milestone in the era of midwifery in Sierra Leone.
She told the gathering that despite encouraging gains that the government has made in the health sector, the levels of child and maternal mortality remain high, adding that these poor health indicators are as a result of a range of implementation challenges including the critical shortage of health workers and the skills required to manage obstetric and newborn care.
Matron Hossinatu Koroma reiterated that universal access to Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) is considered essential to the reduction of the unacceptably high maternal and infant mortal mortalities in Sierra Leone, stating that it requires that all pregnant women and newborns with complications have rapid access to well-functioning facilities that include a broad range of service delivery types and settings.
She disclosed that the government is committed to supporting the increase in the numbers of graduates each year in accordance with the revised draft training plan by the Directorate of Human Resources for Health with the hope of enhancing national postgraduate training for all medical and allied health workers especially for underserved areas and specialties.
Matron Koroma informed her audience that Midwives are vital to the survival of mothers and children and are the frontline workers to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the basic package of essential health services in Sierra Leone. She added that with only 311 practicing Midwives, Sierra Leone suffers from a critical shortage of Midwives, but an additional 3,000 Midwives are needed to ensure adequate care during pregnancy and birth.
She stated that with the inauguration of the school, it is expected that training should commence immediately with 50 students on average to continue the training for two years, and thereafter start the Nurse Midwife Technician training with the next intake. This she said will provide room for a rapid increase of the desired skill birth attendants needed to fill the gap.
The Board Member, Action Medeor, Germany, Christoph Bonsmann said economic growth and development depends on a healthy population. He said around one quarter of economic growth between 2000 and 2011 in low and middle income countries is estimated to result from the value of improvements to health.
He stated that health workers are the backbone of a strong, resilient health system, adding that the Universal Health Coverage and Guaranteed Global Health Security can be only possible with adequate investment in the health workforce.
Chistoph Bonsmann disclosed that the new School will contribute to the training and teaching of 50 new graduated Midwives for the country year by year, adding that safe deliveries under the professional attendance by a Midwife should become accessible for all pregnant women in urban and rural areas.
Most Rev. Charles Campbell, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Bo, described the event as the beginning and the birth of another Midwifery School, hoping it will be the dawn of a new dimension for the profession of midwifery education in the country.
He said together with partners, their vision was to increase skilled birth attendants in the rural communities, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates, reinforce the right professional attitudes and knowledge among midwifery practitioners and contribute to new knowledge in midwifery education.
Giving an overview of the project, the Director, Caritas Bo, David Yambasu said in four years, 2017 through 2020, they planned to set up and run the third Midwifery School, and the plan was carefully thought through a project titled “Strengthening the health system in Sierra Leone through scaling up a new midwifery school in Bo district, southern Sierra Leone”.
He said the aim of the project was to reduce the acute shortage of qualified midwives after the Ebola crisis, adding that training of midwives will help to strengthen the health system in Sierra Leone.
Highlight of the ceremony include statements from UNFPA Reproductive Health Lead, Dr. Mohammed Elhassein, Chairman, Bo District Council, Mr. Joseph Munda Bindi, President, Sierra Leone Midwives Association, Saffiatu Agnes Foday, and the Director, Primary Health, Dr. Joseph Kandeh.
Consecration of facility, cutting of tape and a conducted tour climaxed the ceremony.
By Kadrie Koroma
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