To celebrate the International Day of the Midwife, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) focused on advocacy and policy, in a series of courtesy visits to key stakeholders of Nigeria’s healthcare system. Throughout the week, the Founder-President of WBFA and Global Goodwill Ambassador of the International Confederation Midwives Toyin Ojora Saraki emphasized the importance of reviewing the Midwifery Services Skills and Framework in Nigeria and the adoption of the World Health Organization’s Four Year Integrated Nursing And Midwifery Competency Based Prototype Curriculum For the African Region.
To begin the celebrations on Friday 5 May, WBFA gave the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANMM) relief materials for 200 Kuchigoro IDP camps. The day continued with a courtesy visit to the Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, the House Representative Chike Okafor on the Primary Health Care (PHC) Revitalisation Support Group and other vital stakeholders to discuss strengthening midwifery services and skills in Nigeria.
To continue the celebration of midwives and midwifery services, Toyin Ojora Saraki, Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Global Goodwill Ambassador of the International Confederation of Midwives participated in the International Day of the Midwife Conference convened by NANNM and UNFPA. The Conference brought together policymakers and health workers, such as the Minister of Health Professor Adewole, President of NANNM and Nurse Abdul Rafiu A. Adeniji who spoke at the event. Mrs. Saraki presented the WBFA MamaCare programme at the Conference.
Mrs. Saraki spoke: “As we today, we celebrate the International Day Of The Midwife, we must remind ourselves the vital position midwives take in women’s health. Midwives are key to improving and maintaining women’s health, more women will encounter a midwife than a doctor. We must use the position of midwives in the communities and hospitals and educate women about their health, with reliable and accurate information.”
“In a recent report by the World Health Organization titled: Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Realities, 2750 midwives stated how they did not feel respected and empowered. It is our responsibility to empower and protect our midwives. Midwives should not be left without a salary, they should not have to face abuse at work or disrespect from their peers or patients. We must work to improving the treatment of midwives, because they are essential to the health of the nation. Without a midwife or a birth attendant chances of death during pregnancy and labour immediately increase by a high margin. If we are to improve maternal, newborn, women’s and the family’s health we must ensure midwives are well-respected and well regarded in our communities.
During the IDM Conference, students from the Federal Capital Territory School of Midwifery Gwagalada Abuja gave a presentation of the challenges facing midwifery in Nigeria.
After the Conference, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa went on a field visit at FCT school of midwifery Gwagalada, to view the facility. Mrs. Saraki noted during her visit: “I commend the midwives and midwifery students for equipping this facility with a skills lab, I cannot wait to see how it could build and grow with increased national investment in midwifery schools.”
“Today I also donate copies of the WHO Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Realities Report 2016 and The World Health Organization 4-year integrated nursing and midwifery competency-based prototype curriculum for the African Region. I believe that these two documents are essential for an improved understanding of what global standard midwifery services and skills. We must improve our national midwifery services to attain high-quality services and care for mothers and their newborns”, continued Mrs. Saraki.
To end the field visit, the Director of the Midwifery School thanked Mrs. Saraki and the Wellbeing Foundation Africa for visiting and also requested that Mrs. Saraki help the school gain accreditation status through enabling legislation the Nigerian Senate, which Mrs. Saraki committed to advocating for.
To keep the momentum going for the International Day of the Midwife, Toyin Saraki alongside a delegation of NANNM, UNFPA, members of the PHC Revitalisation Support Group and civil society members made a courtesy call to visit the Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki, Senator Ahmed Lawan, Senator Lanre Tejuosho amongst others on Wednesday 10 May. Mrs. Saraki made a presentation to the senate on the urgent need to improve midwifery services and skills in Nigeria and primary healthcare services.
Responding, Senate President Bukola Saraki committed to hosting a roundtable of stakeholders on the issue in the near future. He stated: “The Senate believes that the welfare of Nurses and midwives is central to maternal and child health but this cannot be achieved in isolation.”
“The Nigerian Senate is applying a holistic approach in extending the hands of partnership to the world midwifery body, the nursing and midwifery council in Nigeria and other key health institutions to support better welfare packages, strengthen the sector and help them achieve their legally established role.”
To end the week of IDM celebrations, Toyin Ojora Saraki, in her capacity as Chair, Nigeria’s Primary Health Care Revitalisation Support Group, and as a Champion for Women Advocates for Vaccine Access WAVA, led several civil society groups including the ONE Campaign and Mamaye, on a stakeholder visit to Honorable Minister for Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, to discuss improving access to vaccines in Nigeria and how to strengthen the National Primary Healthcare system, which would include improving maternal and newborn health care facilities.
As the celebrations and actions in support of midwifery drew to a close, Mrs Saraki, celebrated International Day of the Nurse, an annual commemoration of the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the “lady with the lamp”, by chairing the opening of the National Nursing Week, on 12 May, where she joined NANNM’s nurses and Nigeria Labour Congress in advocating for better training and working conditions for nurses nationwide.