(NAN) The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) says Nigeria needs to produce additional 3,500 midwives annually from 2016 to 2030 to stabilise her maternal and infant mortality rate.
Dr Rabiatu Sagir, Programme Specialist, Maternal Health, UNFPA Nigeria, made this known during a conference to commemorate the 2016 International Day of the Midwives in Abuja.
She said that the state of the world midwifery report said Nigeria was producing 3,000 midwives annually.
According to her, based on projections for future needs, Nigeria needed additional 3,500 midwives annually from now to 2030, adding that the country needs to double the production of her midwives.
“In Nigeria there are 99 institutions offering midwifery training, out of this figure about 10 per cent had lost their accreditation to continue midwifery training for one challenge or the other.
“One of the main challenges is lack of midwives educators, which is key challenge and it determines the number of enrolment allowed for each school.
“Most of the midwives educators are retiring and for some reason they are not being replaced,’’ she said.
She said that UNFPA has been advocating and trying to engage with government at all levels to draw attention of the governments for the need to have further investment in this field.
Sagir added that UNFPA advised the governments and other relevant stakeholders to make investment into this critical health sector to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
The specialist said that on the training and retaining of midwives, UNFPA recognised three cardinal principles for human resource for health development including production, deployment and retention.
She explained that for production “we need to improve the quality of the midwife we are training; we also need to improve on the numbers’’.
Similarly, Mrs Margaret Akinsola, President, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), said there are shortages of midwives to address the demand of Nigeria’s health sector.
Akinsola said UNFPA had assisted in equipping many schools and helped Nigerian government in training many midwives.
According to her, there are many midwives outside who are not employed by the government.
“The association also advised the government to employ retired midwives who are active on contract basis and the contract should be made renewable.
“The government is just throwing the knowledge and talent of this people into the labour market,’’ Akinsola said.
She said that the association had identified decline in the ethics of nursing and midwifery profession in Nigeria.
She said the association was currently running a programme in collaboration with Jphiego, a USAID sponsored programme, to reverse the trend and reintroduce respectful maternity care.
“The programme is currently operational in Kogi and Ebonyi states as pilot project.
“The collaboration will enable our members to change their attitude to work.
“We are working with NGOs to boost the capacity of the midwives in the area of respectful maternity care and the service and it will extend to all states in Nigeria,’’ she said.