"As a male midwife, women are my mother, sister and my wife" Tewodros Seyoum

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Tewodros Seyoum, yound clinical midwifery specialist and ICM Research Award winner 2018

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

My name is Tewodros Seyoum. I am a young clinical midwifery specialist, the ICM Research Award winner 2018 and am currently studying my PhD to become an independent researcher, educator and consultant in Midwifery in the Women’s Department, University of Gondar. At the University of Gondar, I am an Assistant Professor of Midwifery and registered chief expert midwifery professional. I am a lifetime member of the Ethiopian Midwives Association and am closely working with it in capacity building, advocacy and regulation.

I have had ample experience in teaching and learning, research and community service in midwifery since 2008. My professional goal is to contribute evidence for practice through research and advocate for midwifery professionals at the local, national and international levels. I aspire to ensure that women and adolescents enjoy their sexual and reproductive rights and health, and maternal and newborn care is of a high standard.

My internal force towards midwifery profession started ten years back when I began my Bachelor of Science in Midwifery at university of Gondar. I was highly interested and feel passionate to be a professional midwife in order to help mothers while they giving birth.

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

In Ethiopia, women are half of the society and play a crucial role in the country’s development. As a male midwife, women are my mother, sister and my wife – women are the base of the family and the country’s development at large. Therefore, investing in women is investing in the society in general.

What programs currently exist in your country to support women and newborns, and do you think they are working? Why or why not? Independent midwifery services plus community care as well as quality of care, out-off hospital births

In Ethiopia, there is a promising care of women while they are pregnant, giving birth and post-partum care. Midwives are the first line of health professionals who had a remarkable contribution of maternal mortality, from 1234/100,000 live births in 1990 to 412/100 live births now. In spite of our efforts, neonatal mortality remains high in Ethiopia. There is a critical shortage of midwives who can provide comprehensive obstetric care in the rural settings.

What could be improved by Governments and the public to save more lives of women and newborns? Morbidity rates – better working conditions, one to one, education and regulation

The government of Ethiopia has done a lot for a life of a women and new borns. The government should empower women to make them a decision-maker regarding their issues and bodies. There has to be accessible reproductive health service to all women of reproductive age.

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

As an Ethiopian midwife and academician, I strongly identity with the profession and I am interested in how midwifery is practiced.

We all know that midwives are the frontline workers of maternal and neonatal health service provision. More midwives are at hand to give routine care during normal deliveries and are able to identify and manage complications of child birth before they become life threatening.

I would like to share with you some of the challenges midwives face in Ethiopia, where midwives are challenged in providing quality of care due to:

1. Lack of supervision and lack of opportunities for career development
2. Lack of equipment and supplies in health facilities and lack of access to information
3. The poor referral linkage between the health center hospitals, which directly affects job satisfaction
4. Lack of communication, infrastructure, beds and ambulances in hospitals
5. Lack of adequate midwifery skills due to poor quality of education
6. Low payment for night duty and low risk allowance

The government has designed a clear an a well-stipulated strategy to address the above mentioned challenges, and we know that various international communities and stakeholders exert a restless effort to address poor midwifery care.

Midwives in Ethiopia are passionate about making a difference to those they are caring for. I would suggest that is better for us, as midwives, to question what we could all to do improve this even further.

The government should listen the voices of midwives. Let us support and encourage midwives since we are vital to saving the lives of mothers every day!

What do you love most about being a midwife?

It may surprise you to hear that almost 50% of midwives in Ethiopia are males, which is culturally accepted almost all parts of the country. What I love about midwives is that regardless of gender, we have a dual responsibility to save the lives of mothers and babies at the same time. This is the beauty of midwifery profession in general.

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?

The midwifery profession is having promising developments in Ethiopia. There are around  more than 10,000 registered midwives who are on the service.

Midwifery training at Gondar College of Medicine and Health Sciences, where I work, is among the oldest in Ethiopia, which started in 1959 to train nurses in midwifery for nine months after completion of their nursing training. In 1986, certificate-level midwifery training was started with the help of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). In 1998, we had a direct Diploma; in 2004, first Post Basic Bachelor of Sciences; and in 2005, the first generic Bachelor of Midwifery.

And in 2010, the University of Gondar expended the midwifery training program to Master’s level, making it the first in the country to produce midwife specialists who can perform emergency ceasarean sections and hysterectomy and attend to other obstetric emergencies. The government has a significant interest in addressing the critical gap of comprehensive obstetric and newborn care service providers. Now there more than five universities nationally which have this Masters of Midwifery programme.

The College of Medicine and Health Sciences at University of Gondar opened a new PhD program in Midwifery in 2017 to provide key transferable skills in areas such as midwifery research, strategy and policy development, resource management in under-resourced settings, clinical auditing and quality improvement in midwifery service.

ICM is increasing its advocacy capacity for midwives at country, regional and global levels. As a member, what would you like to see ICM do to support advocacy efforts in your Association, community or country?

At an individual member, I would like to see ICM to support advocacy effort on midwifery at different level.

At the community level:

Cervical cancer screening

Long term family planning 

At the Midwifery Association level:

Zero tolerance on disrespectful maternity care

Scope of practise for midwives

CM core competencies and standards for midwives

Success stories of the Association

At the national level:

Challenges of midwives to provide quality of care

Importance of masters and PhD programme of midwifery for the health care system