Building Skills to Fill Health Workforce Gap

by Amref Health Africa

Health workforce development is one of the key pillars of Amref Health Africa’s five-year strategic plan. As the shortage of health workers, particularly midwives, is especially acute in the developing regions, Amref Health Africa has focused its efforts on health systems strengthening in Afar, Benishngul-Gumuz, Gambella, and Somali regions. To bridge this gap, we give scholarships and provide support for more than 193 midwifery trainees across these four regions through our GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) human resources for health projects.

For a region with over half million people, Gambella only has 52 midwives. On average, one midwife covers a population of 10,000. This represents a severe shortage relative to other regions in the country. Previously, there was no midwifery training available in the region, so students had to travel hundreds of kilometers for training. Amref Health Africa assisted students from Gambella who wanted to study at the Arbaminch Health Science College in SNNPR; however, the drop-out rate was high among them as they returned without completing their studies. Due to a lack of supportive system, many capable and passionate candidates did not pursue midwifery.

In order to address this challenge, Amref Health Africa supported the establishment of a midwifery-training program in 2018 where 60 young women received scholarship to attend a three-year training at Gambella Health Science College. The three-year course is a combination of classroom sessions, practical demonstrations, and hospital placements. Ayachyol represents tomorrow’s midwives. She is currently pursuing the three-year training program: “My aspiration is to become a well-trained and skilled midwife who strives to save lives. No matter how far the village I might be assigned to work, I want to be part of the solution of addressing mothers’ and children’s health challenges in my region. I would like to go back and serve the community I have come from,” she says.

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