He informed the graduates that if a teacher made an error, it will be corrected, if an engineer made a mistake, it could be corrected, but their profession is one that deals with life and death and could not afford to make an error because they are critical and vital and thanked them for the good work.
Dr. Wurie told the gathering that the Ministry is trying to establish School of Midwiferies in the various regional headquarters town, adding that there should be a Midwifery and Nursing Schools in Port Loko town. He added that if they establish these schools, they might be able to address some of the maternal and mortality issues in the country.
He disclosed to the graduands that the government under the New Direction will in 2019 provide location allowances including rent allowances for them to work and serve in all the regions in Sierra Leone.
The Minister reiterated that midwives constitute the core cadre of frontline staff in providing maternal and newborn care, adding that one of the significant challenges faces by the Ministry is getting the number of required midwives. He added that in terms of adding to the numbers, the Health Ministry has set in motion a plan of recruiting 3, 000 health workers of all cadres including midwives by 2019 using a phased approach.
He reminded all that another strategic objective for reducing maternal and newborn mortalities is quality improvement, adding that one of the pragmatic steps the Ministry has taken to actualize this is by joining the Global Quality of Care.
The Health Minister congratulated the graduands for the hard work they go through the rigorous of the training curriculum and encouraged them to continue to improve on themselves.
UNFPA Country Representative, Dr. Kim Dickson said the project was initiated because of the very low number of qualified midwives in the country when the free health care was launched.
She said since they started assisting the midwifery project, the Health Ministry and UNFPA are proud of having trained over 647 midwives from both the Freetown and Makeni schools and now an additional 60 midwives have been added, making a total of 707 midwives graduated since 2010.
Dr. Dickson stated that on education, they have been supporting the school by providing tuition, fees, allowances and uniforms and delighted to inform all that the allowances to students were increased by 50 percent in 2017.
She informed her audience that Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world with an estimated average of 3, 000 maternal deaths per year, adding that the Ministry in its wisdom has invested in midwives to reduce maternal mortality in the country.
The UNFPA Representative commended the graduands for their success, and reaffirmed their pledge to support midwives and midwifery in Sierra Leone as they work towards the goal of ensuring that every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe, and that “no women should die giving life”.
Giving the School Report, the Head of School, School of Midwifery, Makeni, Mrs. Francess Fornah said after a series of record entries, they now have 640 enrolled and 467 midwives graduated including the graduating class and will be deployed in the country by the Ministry.
She said the importance of building effective partnerships with a wider agency working relationship and midwifery cannot be over emphasized taking into consideration the appalling maternal and newborn deaths in Sierra Leone.
Mrs. Fornah disclosed that to date, the only appropriate skilled birth attendant is the midwife, adding that a well-educated, well-regulated and well-supported midwife will yield better health outcomes of women and their newborns. She added that over the years, the school has grown in status and stature and please to inform all that the school is doing well irrespective of the challenges.
The Acting Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Matron Mary Fullah described the ceremony as another breakthrough in the era of midwifery training in Sierra Leone with the graduation, certification and award presentation ceremony of 70 midwives from the Midwifery School in Makeni.
She said the government is committed to supporting the increase in the number of graduates each year in accordance with the revised draft training plan by the Directorate of Human resources for Health with the hope of enhancing national post graduate training of all medical and allied health workers, especially for underserved hard to reach areas. She added that special emphasis will be accorded to training of midwives and other paramedics in critical disciplines by the public and private.
The Chairman for the ceremony, Mr. David Banya described the graduation as a milestone in the history of the Health Ministry in reducing maternal mortality in the country and acknowledged graduands for their real achievement.
Highlight of the graduation include statements by the President, Sierra Leone Midwives Association (SLMA), Mrs. Safiatu Foday, representative from WHO, Amaro Hernandez, and the Country Director, Medical Research Centre (MRC), Mr. Abdul Kareem Jalloh.
Commissioning of graduates, distribution of awards and certificates, and interlude by SoMM students climaxed the ceremony.