White Ribbon Alliance

Malawi Midwives

Women delivering dangerously

The Times

August 9, 2016
This article was originally published in The Times and was written by Kenneth Jalion.

Women of childbearing age bracket are delivering dangerously following revelations that the country has a 3,233 midwives only serving four million women.

The results of the survey commissioned by White Ribbon Alliance Malawi have also revealed striking aspects about the ages of the midwives and their working conditions.

Among the worst hit districts, the survey indicates that Mangochi has the highest ratio of one midwife to 7,801 child-bearing women and Likoma has the lowest ratio with one midwife to 803 childbearing women.

This is higher than the recommended World Health Organisation’s ratio of one midwife to 175 women.

While the bed side midwives survey indicates that some of the midwives ages are beyond what is acceptable, it also indicates that most of them spend 75 percent of their time offering midwifery care due to shortages in the civil service.

The survey shows that the trained childbearing specialists also work 18.2 hours more than the recommended 40 hours per week.

This, the report states, has resulted in reduced motivation among the midwives, except a few that are able to claim overtime allowances.

National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (NONMM) Executive Director, Dorothy Ngoma, said nurses are working in a demotivating environment and face hash working conditions that aggravate their plight.

“Nurses in Malawi work longer than is required. Their shifts are too long and tiring but when it comes to pay time they are the last to get their dues,” Ngoma said.

Minister of Health, Peter Kumpalume, in an interview on Sunday challenged some of the dynamics used in the report.

He said much as the findings could be true, Malawi works on different dynamics that are not found elsewhere in the world.

“The country has community midwives, nurse midwife technicians and nurse midwife. All these do the same job. So it is wrong to lump them together as just midwives including aiding women of child bearing age in delivery,” Kumpalume said.

He argued that issues of promotion in the civil service depend on the rate of vacancy at the higher level.

“You do not just promote people for the sake of it. It depends on the vacancies at the next level for people to be promoted,” Kumpalume said.

He expressed ignorance over incidences where some midwives have been forced to work beyond their shift hours without being compensated with an allowance.

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