02 April 2012

South Sudan gets $19.5 million for midwifery programmes

CIDA funding a significant boost for the world's newest country

A student listens to a foetus' heartbeat in Kajo Keji Teaching Hospital, South Sudan. Photo: UNFPA/Roza Freriks

JUBA — UNFPA in South Sudan is to receive 19.5 million Canadian Dollars in funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for a four-year programme, Strengthening Midwifery Services in South Sudan. The project launched on 1 April 2012.

“We are so pleased about this commitment and support from CIDA, which comes at a very important time for this new country,” said Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, Deputy Representative for UNFPA South Sudan. “With one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, South Sudan needs quality midwives now more than ever. With this Canadian support we can really make a difference for women and people in the newest nation in the world.”

The main objective of the programme is to help reduce maternal deaths and morbidity in South Sudan through increasing access to skilled birth attendance. The project aims to improve skilled attendance at birth by developing a sustainable midwifery workforce in South Sudan.

“The project fits perfectly within the overall UNFPA Midwifery Programme in South Sudan and focuses on four key areas – midwifery education and professional development; midwifery planning, administration and regulation; midwives association and advocacy,” said Ulrika Rehnström, UNFPA Midwifery Specialist in South Sudan. “With this support from CIDA we can continue our work in this field and even scale up the interventions that have been proven to work to save pregnant women in South Sudan.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that a skilled birth attendant should be present at every birth, but in South Sudan there are currently only about 150 community midwives and less than 10 diploma midwives for a population of about 8 million people. “We estimate that less than 10 per cent of all deliveries happen in the presence of a midwife, nurse or doctor in South Sudan,” said Gillian Butts-Garnett, UNFPA Midwifery Specialist in South Sudan. “We want to change this and give women and couples the support they need to deliver safely, as no woman should die giving life. An increased investment into this important health workforce is needed and we thank CIDA for its support and contribution.”

“Another important component of the project is supporting the Ministry of Health’s efforts in initiating task-shifting for health workers in South Sudan,” said Kondwani Mwangulube, UNFPA Programme Specialist in South Sudan. “This is an opportunity for South Sudan to increase the number of pregnant women attended by a health care professional with midwifery competencies through training ‘non-physician clinicians’ in life-saving maternal and neonatal health functions, especially in obstetric surgery.”

The project will be implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of South Sudan (MOH), especially the Directorate of Training and Professional Development, the Reproductive Health Unit and the Department of Nursing and Midwifery.

For further information please contact Anne Wittenberg, UNFPA: +211 956209239 or .