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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Dutch Midwives Association Teams up with Sierra Leone Counterparts on Midwifery Care
By Ernest Mason
Nov 4, 2011, 17:10
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The Sierra Leone Midwives Association SLMA, twinning programme with the Royal Dutch Organisation of Midwives KNOV, has been strengthened by the pairing of 25 midwives from both countries. According to statistics, one in eight women in Sierra Leone has a lifetime risk of dying before or during birth.

 

By establishing the twining project the country hopes to reduce the long term suffering and death of Sierra Leonean women and babys due to pregnancy. The maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is very high at around 1000 per 100,000 live births.  

 

Midwives are important for providing the basic services to improve the health of women and mothers and reducing maternal mortality. Unlike their Sierra Leonean counterparts, the Dutch Midwives have enough trained midwives to assist women and their families and understand the importance of prenatal care and advice to women during pregnancy and labour. 

Sierra Leone and Dutch Midwives pose after meeting

 

By setting up this twining midwives programme, our aim is to work closely with the Midwives in Sierra Leone to give effective counselling and support to women during pregnancy and childbirth to ensure they and their babies receive better care, says  Franka Cade the International Project Coordinator, of the Royal Dutch Organisation of Dutch Midwives.  

 

The World Health Organisation, and the International Confederation of Midwives have reiterated the invaluable service of midwifery on improving the infant and maternal mortality rate worldwide.

 

According to Ms Cade, the collaboration between the two Midwifery organisations has reached a new level. This is also evident in the  new training school for midwives in Makeni, supported by Cordaid and the Maastricht midwives academy Northern Sierra Leone, this, too will help enhance the professionalism of newly-qualified midwives in Sierra Leone. 

 

However, she cited complex policies and procedures that are besetting the work of midwives in Sierra Leone and says that, if midwives are not supported by an enabling environment, the new policy to give free medical treatment to pregnant and lactating women and under-fives will be meaningless.

 

The Dutch Midwives International Coordinator said that they are working on a basis of equality with their Sierra Leonean counterparts, and share knowledge and skills to help reducing maternal mortality and offer good quality for mothers and newborn babies in Sierra Leone.

 

However, improving the health of pregnant women requires concerted efforts by the stakeholders involved to ensure the globally awareness on reproductive health for women. 

 

Training and supporting Sierra Leones midwives requires money and within the last three years, the Dutch government has made significant contribution towards reproductive health in Sierra Leone. The Dutch Midwives International Coordinator revealed that funding for this programme will be ceased in 2013 and therefore, the two organisations are trying to devise their own strategy in order to continue the Twin-to Twin Midwives project. 

Addressing the midwifery situation in Sierra Leone is on-going. Through video link, the 25 members of the two midwifery organisations have been able to share knowledge and skills to provide good care and counselling to women during pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal period. However, funds for the programme are drying up and in order to maintain it, funds are needed to help improve reproductive health care and family planning for Sierra Leonean women


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