October 25, 2011 (JUBA) – South Sudan and the United Nations have sent volunteer midwives of various nationalities around the new country in an attempt to tackle extremely high maternal mortality.
The program, ’Capacity Placement of International United Nations Volunteer Midwives Project in South Sudan’ has sent 18 midwives across South Sudan, where there are 2,054 mothers out 100,000 die during labour, according to figures from the ministry of health.
The minister of health, Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, said Tuesday that there are “less than a hundred midwives for the entire country,” with a population of over 8 million.
To assess the Australian funded project, the midwives have gathered in Juba this week for a two-day workshop, organised by UNFPA and the Ministry of Health.
The two day workshop will review and reflect on the project, share experiences and lessons learnt and make recommendations on future directions and programme strategies to strengthen project implementation in South Sudan and contribute towards maternal health in South Sudan.
“One reason for these avoidable deaths is the lack of skilled birth attendants like midwives and others with midwifery skills,” said Gillian Garnett, a midwifery specialist at UNFPA.
“South Sudan needs more midwives who are properly educated, empowered and authorized with all essential basic life saving competencies. Based in an enabling environment they could avert more than 90% of all maternal deaths in South Sudan.”
The ’Capacity Placement of International United Nations Volunteer Midwives project in South Sudan’ started in December 2010, when the first IUNV midwife was deployed to Juba Teaching Hospital. Since then 17 more midwives have followed, assisting in capacity building and strengthening midwifery services across South Sudan.