The Midwives Training School in Aweil, South Sudan, was established through COCOA in 2013 with twenty midwives (11 females and 9 males). GMP is excited to announce that three years later fifteen students have graduated!
Colin Scott and Brian Smyth travelled to South Sudan in November 2015 to be part of the graduation, interviewing some of the students on video and taking photos. Joseph, a male midwife, said that it was his first time attending medical school: “I had never attended any course concerning medical training. I’m happy to have done the course as it has changed my life and for me it is the beginning of the journey”. Similarly Atong, a female midwife, has gained confidence and has found her life purpose since completing the course: “Now I have a name; I’m a midwife! I have my identification and my future is going to be good”.
The United Nations reports that South Sudan has the worst maternal mortality rates in the world. In remote areas such as Malek Alel, Marialbai and Lainya County, medical services are scarce and traditional midwives are the only support for the majority of women during pregnancy and childbirth. The lack of professional knowledge and resources, and primitive birthing practices, leads to high infant and maternal mortality rates. The establishment of the midwives training school in Awiel is an important project not only to the state, but to the country as well. Northern Bahr el Gazal State has the worst maternal mortality rate in the country and, until this midwifery school, had only one qualified midwife. “Midwifery school for us as students means we gain knowledge and skills to go and apply it in our community, counties and other areas.” With new skills come new expectations: “People expect us to practice midwifery to reduce the maternal and infant mortality rate.” The students were recruited from across the state so that now, employed by the Ministry of Health, they can return to the clinics and aid posts to serve women there. While there are many challenges to face, Atong says that we “try to educate and help our poor people to come up with knowledge and awareness of health, to teach them how to keep themselves healthy and how to maintain their families to be healthy, and to also teach them family planning.” With the graduation of these midwives there is hope and celebration in the midst of challenging circumstances. Fifteen midwives are now practicing midwifery in areas where no professional midwives existed before, making a difference to many mothers and their newborn babies.
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