A research conducted by White Ribbon Alliance on Safe Motherhood (Wrasm) has revealed that Malawi is currently experiencing a critical shortage of bedside midwives as there are only 3 420 against the required 23 637.
This means the country has a deficit of at least 85 percent, and there are fears that the situation might continue to hamper smooth service delivery in the country’s health facilities if it remains unattended to.
The study, done with technical support from Global Secretariat in Washington, DC, and financial support from United States Agency for International Development (USaid), further states that the number of bedside midwives in the country is inconsistent with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended ratio of 175:1, using the 2014 estimate of 17.3 million people in the country.
According to the report presented to the Ministry of Health in October 2016, bedside midwives are those that spend at least 75 percent of their professional time on maternal and newborn health services.
“By all measures be it based on recommended population to midwife ratio of 175:1 and work over load as well as mere observation, Malawi has critical shortage of midwives. The census found that there are 3 420 bedside midwives in Malawi serving an estimated population of 17.3 million people.
“A number of ratio scenarios have been calculated and all show ratios outside the recommendation by WHO. For example, using 2008 national population of 13.1 million people, the population to midwife ratio is 3 820 people per midwife. Using the 2014 estimate of 17.3 million people, the ratio is 5 058 people per midwife,” it reads in part.
According to the report, the analysis considered that midwifery services usually benefit women in child bearing age and based on that, further computation of ratios was done.
Speaking in a telephone interview yesterday, Wrasm national coordinator Nancy Tembo said government has shown commitment to increase the numbers of bedside midwives.
“We have seen that government has started the recruitment process of people to be employed as midwives, so we hope the situation will improve for the better,” said.
Health Minister Peter Kumpalume and acting Principal Secretary Chimwemwe Banda requested a questionnaire which had not been responded to by press time. n