Government fails to employ 300 midwifery assistants
At least K677,625,000 in tax payers’ and donor money risk going down the drain since government is failing to employ 333 Community Midwifery Assistants (CMAs) it trained since 2011.
Training of the CMAs started in 2011 by the then first lady Calista Mutharika following increases in maternal deaths in the country.
Apart from Mutharika, the programme was also funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, former president Joyce Banda, World Learning and Clinton Foundation.
The initiative resorted to recruit, train and deploy young women, who posses Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE), to hard to reach areas in the country to enhance access to quality antenatal services.
The programme was instituted to discourage mothers from giving birth at the hands of Traditional Birth Attendants.
So far, 14 cohorts have been recruited to date. At least 333 community midwifery assistants have graduated out of the 695 which were recruited into the programme.
Ministry of Health officials, without giving the exact number, say some of the 333 CMAs have been deployed while some are still waiting to be deployed.
Among others, the initiative provided for K975, 000 in fees per student for the 18 months training, K15, 000 per student in nurses and midwives council indexing and examination fee and K20,000 each for the Margaret Myles text book.
Each student was also entitled to two pairs of uniform and one pair of shoes. But five years down the line, the programme could have hit a snag because government was still having challenges to deploy the CMAs after qualifying.
Reports also indicate some CMAs have started to upgrade themselves instead of going to work in the hard to reach areas as per agreement.
Ministry of Health spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe, admitted that the initiative has indeed faced some setbacks.
“In most instances, we have seen that once employed, it has taken several months before the CMAs receive their first salary and some CMAs have been deployed in hard to reach areas as agreed but are not paired with Nurse Midwifery Technicians for support and supervision,” Chikumbe said.
He has since stated that government has surmounted these challenges by deploying CMAs to the areas where they were recruited from.
“And due to shortage of funding, some CMA’s have been deployed. Some attended interviews and are waiting for results whilst the rest will be deployed next financial year,” he said.
National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives (NONM) president, Dorothy Ngoma, blamed low retention rate of the CMAs on government.
“I think as a country we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. These CMAs are critical in as far as saving lives of women is concerned but we have seen that government has failed to provide them with facilities once they graduate,” said Ngoma.
A 2014 Unicef report states that under-five mortality rate in Malawi is estimated to be at 64 per 1000 live births.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues