As Rwanda marked the International Day of the Midwife, on Thursday, shortage of midwives was cited as a stumbling block in provision of child and maternal health care.
Adequate and well-trained midwives are crucial in Rwanda’s drive to achieve Goal 3 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Maternal and Child Health.
Rwanda has 1, 238 registered midwives, far less than the target of 4,000 midwives.
Ensuring that nursing schools double the number of midwives trained every year will go a long way in addressing the challenge.
There is need for renewed effort to encourage more students to take up midwifery as a profession. Both males and females should be encouraged to enroll for courses in midwifery and nursing in general.
As Josephine Murekezi, the president of Rwanda Association of Midwives observed, midwifery as a profession is not well-known, not well-supported and most students do not choose midwifery as a profession.
However, nursing, under which midwifery falls, remains one of the most sought after professions across the globe. Institutions of learning offering the course in Rwanda should sensitise learners on the importance of this profession.
Once someone has successfully completed studies in nursing, they have many opportunities for career advancement and diversity.
Any formal qualification in nursing opens doors not easily accessible to other professionals. The Rwanda Nurses and Midwives Union should partner with other key stakeholders to ensure that, in the next five years, Rwanda achieves the WHO recommendation of one skilled birth attendant for every 175 pregnant women.
This should also include increasing the number of midwifery schools which stands at eight in the whole country.
Also, government should look into ways of motivating the few graduate nurses in the country to prevent brain drain in the profession.