THE shortage of midwives and limited materials has continued to be a source of concern to Government, Health minister Joseph Kasonde has revealed.
And the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has reiterated its commitment to sustaining its partnership within and outside the health sector with Government, national and international partners to address midwifery workforce-related challenges. In a speech read for him by North-Western Province deputy permanent secretary Alfred Chingi, during the commemoration of the International Day of Midwives, Dr Kasonde said a well-qualified and skilled health work force such as midwives would enable Government offer health care services in a clean and caring environment.
He said Government’s main objective concerning human resource in the health sector was to improve the availability and distribution of qualified health workers to all health facilities in the country.
Dr Kasonde said the Patriotic Front government under the leadership of President Edgar Lungu recognised the pivotal role that the health sector played in both the economy and the well-being of the nation.
“It is true that midwives do not only spend more time with the patients than any other health workers but they are also a first point of contact for the pregnant adolescents, hence the need to have more midwives cannot be over emphasized,” he said.
Dr Kasonde said Government would continue to increase the availability of frontline health personnel to enhance the provision of quality health services to the Zambian people.
‘’This is in line with PF government’s objective of bringing health services as close as possible to all Zambians,” he said. Dr Kasonde also said the recent successes scored in the Millennium Development Goals number four and five is a clear demonstration of the many strides that midwives have contributed to Zambia’s maternal mortality decrease from 727 to 398 per 100,000 live births.
Meanwhile, UNFPA country representative Mary Otieno said her organisation would continue strengthening midwifery workforce skills and capacities and sustain the collaborative efforts with Government and partners in ensuring priority investments for quality training, good working conditions and workforce policies.
“As Zambia domesticates the new Sustainable Development Goals, which replaces the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the role of midwives is, therefore, critical in ensuring all population groups receive quality and skilled care required to improve the health and well-being of the people,” Ms Otieno said. This year’s International Midwives Day was commemorated under the theme “Women and new-born, the heart of midwifery’’.