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Sheila Kitzinger the foremost British natural childbirth activist aptly states that “in all cultures, the midwife’s place is the threshold of life, where intense human emotions, fear, hope, longing, triumph and incredible physical power-enable a new human being to emerge. Her vocation is unique.” This is in view of the noble role of a midwife in ensuring the safe delivery of a baby and the safety of the mother, which culminates in the joys of the family and society. So invariably, the midwife’s role is paramount in bringing a being to be.

From time immemorial, midwifery has been a global practice, rising from the natural need of human birth, thereby recognizing midwifery as a caring profession. Midwives have been globally accepted as professional health workers, specially trained to provide care for pregnant women, as well as assist them in childbirth. They selflessly play the critical role of ensuring that pregnant women embark on the needed antenatal care whether at the hospitals, community levels or homes. They offer professional advice, provide emotional supports and care even during postnatal period, all in a bid to prevent maternal and child mortality.

Today, as the world celebrates Midwives Day, with the theme “Follow the Data, Invest in Midwives.” The theme sheds light on the fact that irrespective of the efforts of midwives in saving lives, mother and child mortality rate is still on the increase, due to paucity of healthcare facilities or access to adequate nutrition or medical care by pregnant women, especially in the rural areas, with pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and hypertension as the root cause of child and mother deaths. According to the 2020 World Health Organisation report, infant mortality rate for Nigeria was 59.181 deaths per 1000 live births and 814 per 100,000 live births for maternal mortality, due to inadequate or insufficient healthcare. In a similar report by the world’s Midwifery, up to 3.6million deaths could be avoided each year in 58 developing countries if midwifery services are upgraded.

Thus, in Bayelsa State, the establishment of the School of Basic Midwifery (SOBM), Tombia, with the sole aim of recruiting, training and deploying qualified midwives to rural Primary Health Centres ( PHCs) to ensure improved access to skilled health care is laudable.

In addition, Governor Douye Diri’s promise in the just concluded three-day health summit to ensure that the Bayelsa state Health Insurance Scheme (BHIS), enjoys a robust support to address issues of safe motherhood and reduction of infant and maternal mortality and the inauguration of the ultra-modern referral hospital at Kaiama and governments directive to replicate same in the other local government areas of the State, is highly commendable. However, more training and retaining of primary health workers, availability of drugs, minimal cost of health care services, and other health related matters should be given priority, if mother and child death must be reduced.

No doubt midwives play important roles in the health sector. Therefore, deliberate efforts should be made by government, to improve the wellbeing of midwives and other health practitioners, by providing basic amenities to create conducive working environment. Pregnant women on the other hand should ensure that they visit the Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) closer to them, for professional advice to guarantee their safety and safety of their babies.

–Ogiren Bedford

Min. of Information, Orientation and Strategy, Bayelsa State

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