UNFPA and health ministry seek end to maternal mortality
26 October 2011 – In a bid to tackle maternal mortality by inserting midwives countrywide, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and Ministry of Health (MoH) organized a workshop today to review their joint midwives project in South Sudan
To date, the joint MoH/UNFPA Capacity Placement of International United Nations Volunteer (IUNV) Midwives Project has deployed 18 IUNVs across South Sudan.
"We are very grateful for the services being provided by ... International United Nations Volunteers across the states and major hospitals in the country," MoH Acting Undersecretary Dr. Samson Baba said at the opening ceremony in the national capital of Juba.
One out of seven pregnant women dies due to pregnancy-related causes in South Sudan. With less than 100 midwives for the entire country, the health workers are severely lacking.
Dr. Baba added that the deployment of IUNVs was a short-term measure, urging international partners to focus on training and mentoring local midwives in achieving a long-term solution to maternal mortality.
UNFPA Head of Office Deji Popoola said that midwifery skill gaps and inadequate as well as ill-equipped health centres at the grassroots level continued to pose a huge risk to mothers and their unborn babies.
"A strong midwifery force with adequate competences... could contribute greatly in reducing maternal deaths," Mr. Popoola said. "Ensuring access to midwifery at every birth, at all levels, is vital at this moment of time."
He reaffirmed UNFPA's commitment to support capacity-building efforts for midwives and midwifery services.
"South Sudan needs more midwives, now more than ever," Mr. Popoola said.
The workshop also aimed to make recommendations on future directions and programme strategies to strengthen project implementation in South Sudan.