THE government yesterday reaffirmed its commitment to hire more competent midwives in the health delivery systems as it struggles to bridge the gap of over 52,000 midwives, countrywide.
Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Faustine Ndugulile said here over the weekend that the country was still facing acute shortage of skilled and competent midwives, promising to meet other stakeholders to deliberate on how best to improve the cadre.
Speaking at the climax of the International Midwives Day, which was commemorated nationwide in Bariadi District in Simiyu region, Dr Ndugulile appreciated the contribution of the midwives despite the challenges they are facing.
Citing statistics from the Tanzania Midwives Association (TAMA), he said lately Tanzania had 47,870 registered midwives against the country's demand of at least 100,000.
"The ratio of midwives services is one to 11,000 mothers in Tanzania, which is far below the International ratio of one to 4 ,000 per year.
The government will keep on addressing this challenge and others facing midwives as it works hard to strengthen service delivery in the country's health system," he said.
The deputy minister warned people, including politicians who throw baseless allegations on services offered by nurses and midwives, saying the profession should be respected and its professionals protected.
He however challenged the midwives to remain ethical and professional, inviting TAMA to contact the ministry for discussions on various issues that were raised especially on ethical dilemmas, capacity building programmes and education.
Deputy Country Representative of the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) Dr Hashina Begum, delivering the message in commemoration of the day, expressed her office commitment in supporting the country's efforts to reduce maternal and newborn mortality burden.
Despite the ongoing work to redress the matter, Dr Begum said Tanzania was still among the ten countries with high maternal and newborn mortality rate, with about 11,000 mothers dying every year during pregnancy and childbirths.
"UNFPA, in collaboration with the directorate of nursing and midwifery services in the ministry and TAMA will continue strengthening the competence of midwives and improving regulations governing midwifery practices," she said.
For years, UNFPA has supported a number of health programmes in the country, particularly in Simiyu region.
Dr Begum cited renovation of 38 health facilities in the region as part of the support that aims at improving provision of maternal and newborn health services, thanks to funding from Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
She underscored the need to expand midwifery programmes through maintained high global standards and promoting an enabling environment for midwives to effectively provide services.
TAMA President Feddy Mwanga challenged the government to ensure midwives are well trained to work competently and offer the best services possible.
The celebrations were also attended by other stakeholders, including the Arlier Glaser Pediatric Aids Healthcare Initiative (AGPAHI) whose experts offered cervical cancer screening services to women.