Thousands of women in Malawi asked for “more nurses and midwives” when we asked how to improve their health. This was not surprising; in 2016, the number of 3,573 practicing midwives in the country was dangerously below the number needed, according to the World Health Organization.
Supported by evidence and women’s demands, local organizations and midwives’ associations advocated tirelessly with the Ministry of Health, Parliamentarians, and the President to recruit and retain more midwives. In response, these policymakers not only became champions of midwives—they also walked their talk.
In 2020, at an event celebrating the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the President of Malawi praised nurses and midwives as “national heroes” – then issued a directive to hire more than a thousand healthcare workers, mostly nurses and midwives.
From 2018-2021, the government of Malawi recruited 3,959 additional midwives—more than doubling the number of practicing midwives in 2016. The Ministry of Health also created a new leadership position, Chief Midwifery Officer, which is being rolled out in Malawi’s Central Hospitals. This new position is giving motivation to midwives to join and remain in the profession.