Strengthening Capacity of Health Workers in the Fight against Maternal and Neonatal Deaths in Malawi

by Amref Health Africa

Reducing maternal, newborn, and child morbidity and mortality require a large number of pregnant women to have equitable access to high quality care by skilled personnel during pregnancy and childbirth. However, not all the skilled health personnel have the requisite hands on expertise in dealing with childbirth complications.

Mary Msiska is nursing officer at Karonga District Hospital working at the labor ward. She is one of the midwives who received a refresher course on Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC) under MOMENTUM Tikweze Umoyo project.

Mary started her career in nursing four years ago. She provides one-to-one support to mothers in labor, conducts antenatal and postnatal checks, and also delivers baby care advice to new moms. She is very committed to making a difference in the lives of the women and children she serves.

Mary Msiska - Beneficiary of the BEmONC training under MOMENTUM Tikweze Umoyo

However, Mary felt she needed to strengthen her competencies in dealing with childbirth complications. She says that ever since she started clinical practice in 2018, she has never had a chance to go for a refresher program on BEmONC.

‘This training has strengthened my skills. I am now confident that I can deal with any complications that may arise when a woman is giving birth. I have been trained on how I can resuscitate neonates and young infants with respiratory and cardio respiratory conditions and also how I can manage breathing difficulties and administer oxygen in newborns. I am thankful to MOMENTUM Tikweze Umoyo project for giving me these skills,’ says Mary.

Sylvia Kandiyera –a Nursing Officer at Salima District Hospital and a Master Trainer on integrated maternal and neonatal health care, says having skilled health workers with expertise and competency to handle childbirth complications is very key in reducing maternal and neonatal deaths in Malawi.

‘We are glad that the MOMENTUM Tikweze Umoyo project is supporting these Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care trainings for our health workers. This is a timely intervention since not all our health workers have the skills to handle pregnancy related complications. You know one of the leading causes of neonatal deaths in Malawi is asphyxia- which is a lack of blood flow or gas exchange to or from the fetus in the period immediately before, during, or after the birth process, so we are training them on how they should handle these to avoid neonatal deaths,’ explains Sylvia.

The Momentum Tikweze Umoyo has invested at least K30 million to support the training of 90 health workers including nurses, midwives and clinicians from Chitipa, Karonga, Nkhotakota, Kasungu and Salima where the project is being implemented.

The MOMENTUM Tikweze Umoyo project is made possible with the support of the American people through USAID and is being implemented by Amref Health Africa in Malawi in collaboration with a consortium of six partners namely – WaterAid, Youth Wave, Family Health Services, Emmanuel International, FPAM and D-Tree. It is a five-year project focusing on reducing maternal, newborn, and child morbidity and mortality in Malawi.

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