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Training midwives to save more lives

A group of women wearing white clothes sitting at a table

Midwives during the training

Midwives during the training

Adequate access to reproductive health services can mean the difference between life and death for mothers and their babies. As often in crisis, women and children pay the heaviest price. In war-torn Yemen, an estimated 5 million women and girls of childbearing age, and 1.7 million pregnant and breastfeeding women, have limited or no access to reproductive health services, including antenatal care, safe delivery, postnatal care and emergency obstetric and new-born care.

Even before the conflict, Yemen recorded one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the region and has been placed among the high alert countries for maternal mortality in the Fragile Countries Index. Decades of underdevelopment and years of intense fighting have left only half of all health facilities fully functional. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation, with roughly 15 percent of the functioning health systems repurposed for COVID-19 treatment.

Midwives are the key to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality

In Yemen’s rural areas, many women and their babies often cannot make the long, hard journeys to health facilities. Due to a lack of nearby health facilities, paved roads, transportation and medication costs, pregnant women often have to give birth at home, which can lead to complications. Midwifery is a key to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in hard-to-reach areas. An empowered midwife can save two lives at a time; the mother and her baby. They help women who cannot seek medical care at health facilities to give birth to healthy babies safely at home.

“Many pregnant women who come to my clinic show malnutrition symptoms,” said Osan Ali, a midwife from Tuban, a district in Lahj governorate. “Malnutrition can cause great harm, and even death, to both mothers and their babies. People are no longer able to get enough nutritious food. The difficulty of accessing reproductive health services poses the greatest threat to women’s health.”

a woman wearing a face mask holding a round blue placard
Osan Ali, a midwife from Tuban district of Lahj governorate

Training midwives in remote areas of Yemen

In May 2021, CARE trained 15 community midwives in remote rural areas of Lahj governorate. The midwives were coached on providing basic antenatal care, delivery postnatal care, emergency obstetric care, and referring cases with complications to nearest health facilities. In addition, 40 community volunteers in June 2021 were trained to educate women at home about maternal health. CARE plans to distribute 4000 reproductive health kits (CDKs) during the third quarter of 2021 as part of a rehabilitation programme of four health facilities in Radfan and Tuban districts in Lahj governorate.

The training helped me update my skills in managing postpartum hemorrhage and providing high-quality health services to mothers and newborns,” says 44-year-old Kawkab Abdul Salami from Lahj. For nearly 20 years, Kawkab has been the only midwife in her village. Boosting her skills through training, Kawkab can now take better care of her patients. “I hope to see more awareness sessions taking place to raise women’s knowledge of reproductive health issues,” she adds.

A woman in a hospital wearing a black veil,
Loza is always glad to see mothers and their babies healthy

30-year-old Loza Qaid studied nursing and midwifery. She works in a health center in Lahj, providing family planning consultations. Due to the shortage of midwives, Loza helps three to six women per week to give birth. “If we increase the number of midwives and the quality of care they provide, we would save more lives,” she says. “There are no words to express my happiness when I see a mother and her baby both being healthy.”

“Midwives are the backbone of reproductive health services during this difficult time in Yemen,” says Osan. “Midwives in Lahj deserve greater investment in building their skills,” she concludes.

CARE, in partnership with five relief agencies, aims to enhance the resilience and social cohesion of conflict-affected communities in Lahj and Dhamar governorates. Through the Durable Solutions Project (DSP), which is a two-year Consortium project funded by the European Union and led by ACTED, CARE provides a package of integrated health, livelihood and empowerment interventions.


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