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International Midwifery Scholarship

Latest Statistics on Maternal and Neonatal Health Care in East, Central and Southern Africa:

  • 585,000 women die each year (underestimation) as a result of pregnancy and childbirth
  • Almost all – 99% - of these deaths occur in developing countries, particularly Africa
  • Only 42% of births in Africa are attended by skilled personnel
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, midwifery educators are in short supply

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It is an unbearable fact that the care and welfare of mothers and babies is known to be severely lacking within most African countries. A woman in Africa has a risk of 1:16 of dying from pregnancy related conditions. In developed countries this risk is 1:2,500.

These shocking statistics are the crux of a problem which led to a successful British Council Bid. This, along with support from the Commonwealth secretariat led to the development of an MSc in Midwifery and Women’s Health. The content was planned by some 32 participants gathered from East Africa. UCLan and Pat Donovan have played an instrumental part in the development and progress of this group, which has resulted in the realisation of a shared vision of delivery of core modules through UCLan’s MSc Midwifery and Women’s Studies course. This will ensure harmonisation of standards throughout the region. This course has the capacity to improve midwifery education and practice; increase the number of midwifery tutors and advanced practitioners; promote women’s health; and reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity within Africa.

Midwives wishing to develop their professional skills have been forced to migrate to developed countries which offer postgraduate courses unavailable within their region. Also midwives are lured to other countries by high wages and apparently better conditions. This further compounds the problem of staff shortages. This is remedied by a distance learning course, planned by African Midwives, for midwives to access in their own country. Improved care for mothers and their babies is possible and an aim for many charities and action groups.

It is UCLan’s aim through the Africa Midwifery Project to ensure that skilled professionals are trained to a level which will be dispersed through regions where allocation of care equity, prioritising regions where financial and geographic barriers have contributed towards one of the worst rates of maternal and neonatal death. Without enriching the knowledge of adequately trained professionals, the ability to make a positive impact on the shocking statistics mentioned above will be slow at best, unthinkably it may also see these get worse.

We want to extend an invitation to everyone to join UCLan in contributing towards the momentum of change in the ECSA region of Africa, where expectant mothers, mothers and babies rights to healthcare is recognised, supported and protected.