Newly-trained midwives establish home clinics
The women were trained by the National Yemeni Midwives Association (YMA), supported by USAID, which also provided them with the necessary equipment to set up their own clinics.
Yemen suffers from a shortage of skilled midwives – especially in rural areas where women run the risk of complications and even death as they travel many miles to reach a midwife before giving birth.
Last Saturday, the YMA started a two-week training course for 30 midwives in Shabwa and Amran governorates, teaching them how to run a small businesses and empowering them to establish their own home clinics and improve the quality of reproductive health services in their local areas.
The YMA also helps those midwives to gain licenses from the Ministry of Health so that can operate legally.
"We have only about 5,000 skilled midwives while Yemen needs at least 20,000," said Dr. Suad Qasim, head of the National Yemeni Midwives Association.
The YMA was established, and began training midwives, in 2006 with the assistance of USAID, in the hopes that they would be able to open and manage their own clinics.
"This project is unique and was created to alleviate the suffering of thousands of pregnant women in rural areas who are scared about their delivery. They really need such projects," she said.
Qasim told the Yemen Times that some women in rural areas deliver their babies with the aid of neighbors or old, unskilled midwives who use traditional tools and methods. However, she said that resorting to unskilled midwives is also danger to women’s health.
The National Yemeni Midwives Association plays a vital role in training midwives and providing them with refresher courses to make sure their skills remain up to date. It was established in 2006 to improve midwifery sector, increase the number of trained midwives and raise awareness about safe delivery methods and reproductive health.
Dr. Suad travelled to Uganda to see how home clinics had helped women in the East African country. "It was a great idea that contributed towards easing the suffering of women there. We wanted to implement the same experience in Yemen and we succeeded."
In addition to offering women in rural areas access to well-equipped clinics in their locality, these clinics also provide a source of income to the midwives and their employees.
"One of the midwives who benefited from this project has hired 12 workers in her clinic while others have expanded their clinics," said Fatoom Ali Noor, secretary-general of the YMA.
She explained that people in these areas have expressed their satisfaction about the new clinics, adding that to date, there have been no deaths in the home-run clinics.
Noor went on to criticize the poor midwifery service offered by some Yemeni clinics and hospitals. "Unfortunately, some women have been hurt or treated harshly by midwives in some hospitals. Some are careless with heavily pregnant women," she said.
Shams Mohammed, a midwife from Amran governorate and one of the trainees, said that her area lacks both clinics and skilled midwives.
However, Mohammed is very optimistic about the training she received. "I'm going to establish my own 24-hour clinic to help people in my deprived area and raise awareness about reproductive health among people here,” she said.