BY PHYLLIS MBANJE/ARNOLD FANDISO
Zimbabwe is still facing an acute shortage of midwives and the situation has escalated due to the COVID-19-induced demand for nurses globally.
As the world celebrated International Day of the Midwife yesterday, it was revealed that the country is grappling with a severe shortage of these experts who are leaving the country in droves for greener pastures abroad.
Since the advent of COVID-19 globally, there has been a massive demand for nurses and sadly, due to poor remuneration and deplorable working conditions, many including midwives have joined the great trek to greener pastures.
Zimbabwe Confederation of Midwives president Emmanuel Mahlangu said midwives were not being recognised in the country for their critical role in delivering babies safely and keeping a lid on maternal deaths.
“The global need for nurses has depleted our staff. These experts for normal deliveries are sadly migrating to other countries where they will only be operating as general nurses. This is because here, we do not recognise their role and out of frustration, many answered to global calls for nursing vacancies and now we have a shortage,” he said.
Mahlangu said it was sad that Zimbabwe, still with unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, was now just a training ground for other countries.
“We call on the government, local authorities and corporate sector to invest in midwives through intensified training and adequately retaining them,” he said.
The 2021 State of World’s Midwifery report by UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, World Health Organisation, International Confederation of Midwives ICM and partners noted the acute shortage of midwives as exerting a terrible global toll in the form of preventable deaths.
An analysis conducted for this report, published in the Lancet journal last December, showed that fully resourcing midwife-delivered care by 2035 could avert 67% of maternal deaths, 64% of new-born deaths and 65% of stillbirths.
It could save an estimated 4,3 million lives per year.
Commenting on the state of the world report, executive director for UNFPA Natalia Kanem said: “The State of the World’s Midwifery report sounds the alarm that currently the world urgently needs 1,1 million more essential health workers to deliver sexual, reproductive, maternal, new-born and adolescent healthcare, and 80% of these missing essential health workers are
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