If immediate steps are not put in place, most of the nation’s hospitals and clinics would run out of the services of midwives as a great number of them working in these facilities are between the age of 55-60 and will soon b heading for retirement.

Dr. Phyllis Antwi of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital who sounded this alarm at a day’s seminar in Accra recently, has accordingly advocated the training of more midwives to improve the mid wife-patient ratio which now stands at 1:7,200.

This means that the health sector needs an additional 8,000 midwives to fill the gap if maternal health is to be developed to an appreciable standard, Currently, the country’s maternal mortality rate is high, especially among women in rural communities, a disincentive to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on health by 2015.

Presently, Ghana’s maternal mortality rate stands at 560 per 100,000 live births while only 43 per cent of births in rural areas are assisted by skilled providers due to inadequate access to obstetric care.

Dr. Antwi said as a result of several disincentives in the profession most young girls do not want to become nurses “Progression in the job of midwife is almost zero and thus unattractive to most girls”

“What is even more worrying is the gradual phasing out of the famous Traditional Birth Attendants in the communities,” she added.

She blamed the situation on the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders for their failure to anticipate the problem and plan accordingly. “Now most girls prefer other areas of nursing as against midwifery because the profession is not attractive,”

Dr Antwi, however, said all is not lost yet because modalities are being put in place to train young SSS graduates in Diploma courses in Midwifery to take over from the aging women.

She appealed to the government and MOH to put incentives in place to generate more interest in the profession. “We can stem the tide through conscious efforts to train more nurses and midwives to take over from the aged ones.”

On migration of nurses outside the country for greener pastures after training, she said the percentage has reduced a little but there is still the need to retain them.

At the moment, most government health facilities depend on National Youth Employment Programme and National Service Persons to work but these personnel, she explained, lacked the professional competence to do the job effectively.

She further disclosed that presently government spends over 90% of the budget of the MOH on personnel emoluments and incentives, leaving only 10% for other projects in the health sector.

Source: Public Agenda