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Learning Skills and Earning Trust

Source: World Health Organisation - Tue, 19 Oct 2010 13:49 GMT
Author: Medair
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For a woman who is only 30 years of age, midwife Asha Mohamad Ali has delivered a surprising number of children in her lifetime. ?I might have delivered about 3,000 babies,? said Asha, who works out of the village of Abu Likri. ?I once did 13 in a single week!?Back in 1992, Asha attended a one-and-a-half year midwife training organised by the government in Kadugli. She has been helping pregnant women during childbirth ever since. Despite her many years of experience, Asha still has gaps in her midwifery knowledge. For instance, until recently, Asha had never learned to measure blood pressure. ?Blood pressure is very useful for identifying whether the patient has a problem,? she said. ?But it is not easy to measure.? The Need for Skilled MidwivesHere in Sudan?s northern states, expectant mothers face deadly risks during childbirth. Indeed, the most common birthing practice in rural areas is still for pregnant women to be attended by a traditional birth attendant (TBA) while receiving support from other women in their village. However, these women lack the necessary training to respond in the event of obstetric emergencies.?Support from other women is an important part of traditional birthing culture,? said Rebekka Frick, Medair Reproductive Health Manager in South Kordofan. ?But the presence of a skilled, trained midwife at the birth can make the difference between life and death for both mother and child.? Medair?s Safe Motherhood Programme For this reason, Medair runs a comprehensive safe motherhood programme in South Kordofan. We support midwives like Asha, offering week-long courses of refresher training along with monthly supervision and teaching visits. We also provide midwives with access to vital medicine, equipment, and safe delivery kits. ?To be a midwife in your community is not always easy,? said Rebekka. ?There are high expectations on you and if something goes wrong, you are easily blamed. We know of midwives who were called to the police because of complications. Medair offers the kind of technical and practical support that midwives need in order to gain wider acceptance in their communities.?A Week of Refresher TrainingIn February, Asha completed the week-long Medair ?refresher? training programme for midwives, along with 16 other women. There, Asha and the other midwives learned how to take a patient?s blood pressure, how to identify complications, and how to diagnose and dispense drugs. Medair also provided them with much-needed equipment and drugs to ensure healthy pregnancies and successful deliveries. ?My broken stethoscope was replaced,? said Asha. ?Also, before this training, I used to buy drugs from the market and I didn?t really know how to prescribe them. Now, I?m able to prescribe drugs such as iron, folic acid, and anti-malaria medication to patients, which will help improve their general health as well as their pregnancy.?Enam Salim, a 35-year-old midwife from the village of Jeebni, also completed the Medair training week in February. ?Having Medair take care of us like this is very encouraging,? she said. ?Carrying out deliveries is a big responsibility, but thanks to my meetings with the Medair team, I can talk, ask questions, and stock up on drugs.? Success Story from a Nomadic MidwifeSince some of the midwives we support are nomadic, Medair holds monthly sessions with them in a central location. At a meeting this May, our team heard an inspiring story from one of our Medair-trained nomadic midwives named Eran. ?Yesterday, I was called to a delivery where I found that the cord was prolapsed,? said Eran. ?This is a very high-risk obstetric emergency. When the cord is prolapsed, oxygen supply to the baby often decreases and many babies die.?Thankfully, Eran had attended one of Medair?s five-day refresher courses this past June. Along with learning about treating obstetric complications, family planning, and the dangers of female genital mutilation, Eran had participated in role-playing exercises that simulated how to respond to high-risk births. It was one of these exercises that taught her how to respond to a prolapsed cord.?I remembered what was taught at the last refresher training where we discussed obstetric emergencies and we acted them out,? she said. ?I followed these instructions and both the mother and baby survived and are now doing well!? New Hope for Mothers and MidwivesAs Medair?s work continues in the region, more and more midwives are receiving vital training and support. For every midwife we train and support, the impact of our work is magnified immensely, passed on to every expectant mother and infant whom our midwives aid.As communities hear life-saving stories like the one told to us by Eran, word spreads about the value of having a skilled midwife present at every birth.  To support pregnant women in the transition away from using only TBAs toward using skilled midwives, Medair holds training sessions with women in communities, in partnership with the state Ministry of Health and local women?s unions. Indeed, after recent safe motherhood workshops in Kailak town in April and in Satib in May, 141 women in Kailak and Satib received antenatal care for the first time ever. Another 216 women received their first tetanus vaccinations. ?This is a massive behaviour change that is underway,? said Rebekka. ?I have more patients now that I have completed the Medair training,? said Asha.  ?And my patients seem to trust me more!?With our continued support, South Kordofan?s midwives are learning skills and earning trust within their communities. ?As midwives become increasingly respected and accepted, they will be able to make a lasting difference for families throughout the region,? concluded Rebekka. ?Their work will save many lives.?Medair?s safe motherhood project in South Kordofan is supported by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Department for International Development UK, and private donors.Medair has been operational in Sudan since 1995. In West Darfur, where Medair has been active since 2001, Medair currently provides access to primary health care and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for conflict-affected people. Elsewhere in Sudan, Medair supports access to WASH and promotes public and reproductive health in South Kordofan. Medair is also active in a number of locations in southern Sudan. This web feature was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.> Donate Now. Medair?s life-saving activities are dependent upon private financial support. To contribute to this work, click here> More information about Medair's activities in Sudan (Northern States). Read More

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