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EDITORIAL: Long Term Solution To Deal With Shortage Of Midwives Is A School For Specialist Midwives

When there is a shortage of midwives but there are retired midwives taking con­tracts in Nauru and Vanuatu, what is the practical solution? Re-engage the retired midwives who are physically
24 Feb 2018 14:30
EDITORIAL: Long Term Solution To Deal With Shortage Of Midwives Is A School For Specialist Midwives

When there is a shortage of midwives but there are retired midwives taking con­tracts in Nauru and Vanuatu, what is the practical solution?

Re-engage the retired midwives who are physically capable of working again.

That’s exactly what the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said to Fiji Midwifery Society presi­dent Aliote Galuvakadua. She had approached Mr Bainimarama to seek his help because they were short of midwives when the Makoi Maternity Unit in Nasinu was opened on Thursday.

The retirement age of 55 was leading midwives to take up contracts in other Pacific island countries looking for midwives.

Mr Bainimarama has given his and the Ministry of Health’s approval for the re-engagement of re­tired midwives. Common sense has prevailed. This is a short term practical solution.

The long term solution is the setting up of a sepa­rate midwifery programme to run parallel to the nursing programme.

If there are legal impediments that prevent this from happening, then they must be cleared.

The fact is Fiji needs specialist midwives. As our population grows, the pressure on hospitals and ma­ternity units will also grow. This is inevitable.

Specialist training is the way to go if we are to lift the service of health and medical service.

The midwifery course can start with a diploma programme and gradually built to become a fully fledged degree programme. Fiji should take a leaf out of the NZ midwifery model. If it has already done it then it needs to expand it.

Well trained specialist midwives will reduce the risks of incidents in the labour ward because they can take the pressure off doctors. Their scope of practice should allow them to deal with high risk cases up to a certain point which they currently cannot do. Again, they would need specialist train­ing to do this.

Midwifery should be elevated to the same status as nursing not as a poor cousin.

A lot of mishaps that happen in the labour wards can be avoided if well trained specialist midwives staff the units.

When a woman in labour enters the maternity door with high risk conditions, specialist midwives would know exactly what to do.

They would treat that woman with priority and en­sure that all the diagnostic checks are completed as soon as possible to assess her. The findings will de­termine the next level of care, whether she should be referred to specialist doctors.

The Ministry of Health has no doubt conducted its internal investigation on how a woman from Wain­ibuka broke her waters one night but could not travel immediately to the hospital because of lack of transport.

She caught the bus the next morning and she was fine when she entered the maternity unit. She and her baby died during the birth process later.

The findings from that incident would be interest­ing. That is why there is an urgent need to have spe­cialist midwives.

A separate midwifery stream needs to be set up alongside the nursing course. Students from both streams can start their programmes together on modules that are relevant to them before they branch out for their specialist training.

We will continue to experience a shortage of mid­wives because births are a natural process linked to population increases. So more babies will be born.

The solution long term will be a school of trainees.

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