Celebrating the 10,000 happy birthdays successes in Zambia and the launch of 50,000 happy birthdays

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Sarah Nyirongo Ngoma is the President of Midwives Association of Zambia (MAZ). In this blog she tells us about why she decided to become a midwife, the successes of the 10,000 happy birthdays project and the importance of deploying midwives in health facilities, especially at community level. 

Brief introduction to yourself, including your member association, area of interest & expertise and why you decided to become a midwife:

My name is Sarah N. Ngoma and I am happy because I am a midwife! I am the President of the Midwives Association of Zambia. I went for midwifery training in 1993 because I wanted to be part of the life savers. I am a responsible midwife because I feel that I hold the lives of both the mother and baby in my hands with great care. I would not – and I do not want – to let go of either of these lives when I have the ability to help them. I always want to see a live baby and a live mother who will go home smiling. During my nine years of active practice in maternity wards, I have never delivered a still born baby, nor have I witnessed a maternity death. I believe in providing quality care to every woman because she deserves it. This is where I draw my strength and interest as I continue saving lives as a midwife leader.

SarahNyirongoNgomaMAZ 

Sarah Nyirongo Ngoma, Midwives Assocaition of Zzambia President 

What issues do you think impact the life of women and their newborns the most in your country?

Postpartum haemorrhage and asphyxia are the leading causes of maternal and neonatal deaths respectively.  Others include pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and malaria in pregnancy which sometimes lead to anemia in a pregnant woman. 

What programmes currently exist in your country to support women and newborns, and do you think they are working? Why or why not?

Programming currently going on in Zambia are the training of midwives for skills in Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding After Birth(HMS-BAB) and Helping Babies Breathe (HBB), Essential Care of Every Baby (ECEB) and Essential Care of Small Babies (ECSB). These programmes are working because we have seen a reduction in maternal mortality from 591 to 398 our of 100,000 live births, as well as reduction in infant mortality from 70 out of 1000 live births to 45 out of 1000 live births 

What could be improved by Governments and the public to save more lives of women and newborns?

Government must deploy more midwives in the health facilities, especially at community level, so that the big hospitals are left as referral hospitals for complicated cases. We also want the General Nursing and Midwifery Council of Zambia, which is a regulatory body, to ensure that registered nurses and Midwives are given Diplomas when they qualify and place them in the correct salary scale and give them the correct salaries.

What could be improved by Governments and the public to support midwives in delivering high-quality, respectful maternity care?

Boosting of staffing levels is needed, as is the provision of necessary and adequate equipment and supplies.

What do you love most about being a midwife?

I like it whenever a new baby is born and is healthy and the mother is healthy.

Blog Sarah Ngoma Midwife Zambia

What progress is happening in your country, region, community or even just in your own professional life that excites you about the future of midwifery?

  1. The existing relationship with government, political will and support for the midwives will make better the future for midwifery.
  2. Most enrolled nursing schools have been upgraded to Registered nursing, making the number of enrolled nurses upgrading high and motivating.
  3. The introduction of registered Nurse/Midwife four-year training has cheered many, including the general community.
  4. The Midwives Association of Zambia has embarked on writing proposals to raise funds conduct training for midwives in respectful maternity care (RMC), Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding After Birth Complete(HMS-BABC), Essential Care of Small Babies (ECSB), Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia (PEE) and Essential Care of Every Baby(ECEB) in order build skills among midwives to ensure provision of quality health care.

ICM is developing and implementing a digital strategy that will include information on the work ICM, Member Associations and partners are undertaking globally to improve representation and advocacy for midwives. What can this include that would be helpful for your own advocacy?

We would like to see midwives standing and speaking up for the poor women and the babies  out there who need quality health services.

Read more about Sarah's work, brief information on the 10,000 happy birthdays and launch of the 50,000 happy birthdays programme. 

In 2014, Zambia and Malawi were awarded a project known as 10,000 Happy Birthdays. This was a two years project that ended in December 2016 but extended to September 2017. The two countries worked hard towards training 10,000 midwives and other health providers who were involved in conducting deliveries regardless of their professional qualification to impart skills on Helping Mothers Survive Bleeding after Birth and Helping Babies Breathe.

We believe that: For every provider who is trained, there is a mother and a baby whose lives were saved. A total of 8,045 (Zambia- 5122, Malawi -2923) midwives and other health providers were trained translating into 80.45% achievement! This was a great milestone for the two associations because this is an investment! On 19th February,2018 the celebration of this great achievement happened in Zambia. The presence of the ICM President Franka Cadee and other dignitaries including Anna from Laerdal Global health, ICM senior Midwives Advisor Ann Yates and of course the midwives from Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania was another great milestone especially for Zambia. This was a rare opportunity and on behalf of the MAZ, we are so happy and humbled that Zambia was chosen to be the hive of an activity such as this one. The launch of the 50K happy birthday on this same day was another great achievement for Laerdal Global health, ICM and not for getting the three countries where the project will be implemented.

Congratulations to Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda! Congratulations to Zambia and Malawi associations for the continuation of the 10,000 happy birthdays for the next one year! The project will be supported by the Rotary Norway in collaboration with Rotary Malawi and Rotary Zambia.