Maternal Health

Equipping Midwives in Malawi for Safe Births

Skilled birth attendants are working to protect mothers and babies during delivery and post-natal care.

Midwife kits were delivered to Lumbadzi Health Center in Malawi in November, 2018. Midwives perform an average of 150 safe deliveries per month at the rural health outpost, located on the outskirts of Lilongwe, the country’s capital city. The kits  contain everything a midwife needs to deliver babies safely in almost any environment. Items include surgical instruments, I.V. sets, headlamps, and more. In collaboration with the Malawian Association of Midwives, Direct Relief will continue to provide the kits to health centers across Malawi. (Paulina Ospina/Direct Relief)
Midwife kits were delivered to Lumbadzi Health Center in Malawi in November, 2018. Midwives perform an average of 150 safe deliveries per month at the rural health outpost, located on the outskirts of Lilongwe, the country’s capital city. The kits contain everything a midwife needs to deliver babies safely in almost any environment. Items include surgical instruments, I.V. sets, headlamps, and more. In collaboration with the Malawian Association of Midwives, Direct Relief will continue to provide the kits to health centers across Malawi. (Paulina Ospina/Direct Relief)

A midwife with the right training and tools can make all the difference. Just by having a skilled birth attendant supervise a woman’s delivery, most obstetric complications can be avoided, and that’s exactly what the Association of Malawian Midwives are working to do.

In 2018, Direct Relief and the association, known as AMAMI, forged a partnership to ensure that midwives participating in AMAMI’s training programs are well-equipped to provide safe deliveries in six underserved districts across Malawi.  AMAMI, which was established in 1997, has trained more than 3,500 midwives and nurses across the country.

This month, a final shipment of 150 Midwife Kits arrives in Malawi, bringing the total distribution of 225 kits committed by Direct Relief. Each kit contains the 59 essential items a midwife needs to perform 50 facility-based safe births, and was designed by Direct Relief in consultation with experts from the International Confederation of Midwives.

The kits are being distributed across more than 100 health centers and district hospitals that are currently under-resourced in the Northern, Central and Southern Regions of Malawi.

Distributing the Midwife Kits is part of a project that will support ongoing efforts by Malawi’s Ministry of Health targeting maternal and neonatal health interventions to reduce maternal mortality rates.  Although Malawi has made great gains in this area over the last 15 years – reducing maternal mortality rates from 957 per 100,000 live births to 634 per 100,000 live births – maternal mortality rates in Malawi remain some of the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Ministry of Health is working to reduce those numbers even further, by improving health facilities and training for healthcare staff, among other measures.

AMAMI seeks to address gaps in the latter by providing midwifery training through its district-based, country-wide training programs. These programs, combined with the equipment and supplies provided by Direct Relief, will help to ensure that midwives can combine their training with the tools they need to provide quality care to mothers and newborns.

Since 2008, Direct Relief has been committed to making motherhood safer by improving the availability of maternal health supplies for trained midwives, and has provided nearly 2,000 Midwife Kits to 21 countries.

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