The What Midwives Want Assessment, conducted by the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) in Niger State, indicates that less than 200 of the 2,003 Primary Health Care (PHC) centres in the state have a midwife.
The data also revealed that the state currently has a total of 347 midwives as of January 2021, out of which 283 are employed by Saving One Million Life (SOML) programme.
With SOML coming to an end, the state has only 64 midwives to attend to 1,435,010 women of childbearing age.
The chairperson, National Association of Nurses and Midwives, Niger State chapter, Comrade Anna Simone, said the problem of uneven distribution of midwives exists in the state, with poor working environment, adding that the number of midwives to the number of women of reproductive age is grossly inadequate with only 64 midwives fully employed by the state.
Simone lamented that few facilities with midwives are enduring poor working conditions with insufficient tools required to carry out their functions effectively. “Basic items as equipment and delivery kits are mostly insufficient in PHCs.
“Niger State does not have a clear term of reference between midwives and CHEWS that is causing an ongoing conflict in some facilities and hampering the midwives from providing quality services to women, they are rather relegated to administrative tasks,” Simone said.
Reacting to the data, the state’s commissioner for information and strategy, Hon Mohammad Idris, stated that the government was ready to employ more midwives, following the approval of a provision to recruit more midwives in the state’s 2021 budget.
Idris, who spoke at the commemoration of 2021 International Day of the Midwives, which had in attendance state health actors, Niger State Chapter of National Association of Nurses and Midwives, WRA and partners emphasised the important role of midwives in saving lives, especially pregnant women, and mothers during childbirth.
In her remarks, the project manager, WRA Nigeria, Christy Asala, stated that the alliance would support the association, and engage relevant stakeholders in advocacy till the commitment translates to action, explaining that the primary role of WRA in the state and Nigeria remains to amplify the voices of women and girls to ensure their voices shape decision-making processes.