An NGO, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, WBFA, has called for the empowerment of midwives to be the central focus to Respectful Maternity Care,RMC, and core of the Sustainable Development Goals related to maternal and child health care.
The WBFA head of programmes and advocacy, Mrs. Felicity Ukoko made this call at the recent Human Rights in Childbirth Africa Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ukoko, sharing her 20 years of experience as a midwife, noted that the two contributory factors negatively affecting quality maternity care are the attitude of healthcare workers towards women and poor communication among them..
She said, “Women who are able to reflect positively on their birth experience are more likely to begin their journey as empowered and informed mothers. And we know that an empowered woman is more likely to be a health-seeking mother, ensuring better overall health outcomes for her child and family. As trusted and respected advisors to women during pregnancy and birth, we must demonstrate a commitment to the values of Respectful Maternity Care, RMC, and ensure our behaviour is compassionate, supportive, and caring. Our commitment to these principles can shape the wider culture of healthcare and working practices across all levels of healthcare systems.”
She stressed the need for more midwives to enhance RMC that is equitable and attainable by women as access to this care is often determined by where a woman lives and her socio-economic status
She further noted that where there is limited resources, health professionals face challenges in their day-to-day delivery of service; lack of manpower, equipment, medicines and working long hours without breaks all lead to poor care.
Against this backdrop, the WBFA said that it has led the call for investment in the recruitment, training and continuous development of midwives in all areas and all communities, because of the ability of midwives to provide RMC for mothers.
WBFA said that it has introduced its personal health record, a client held record, that tracks all patients data throughout pregnancy and childbirth, up to age five, which also serves as a platform for dialogue between mothers and the healthcare providers.
To facilitate the empowerment of midwives and healthcare professionals, WBFA said it recently implemented a ‘skills and drills training’ programme in Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care, EmONC, in Kwara State, Nigeria.
Meanwhile, in order to empower women and scale up access to respectful maternity care in the African continent, WBFA noted that it is currently working with healthcare providers and governments to ensure that the rights of women during childbirth are embedded in law and in practice.
Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Founder of WBFA and Chairperson of White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria has called for a fully pronged approach that tackles quality of care, strengthens infrastructures, and provides healthcare workers with the skills and resources they need to deliver effective clinical and non-clinical interventions.

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