Nigeria has introduced the Midwives Service Scheme (MSS) through its National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to meet the needs of women and children served by basic primary health care clinics rural communities. There is hope that the scheme will help to address the country’s high maternal mortality rate, which according to the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey, averages 545/100,000 live births, but ranges widely across the country’s six health zones from 165 to 1549.
Nigeria used to have separate midwife and nurse training, but some years ago midwifery became a specialty area for nursing training, not a stand alone profession. Fortunately the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria maintained its name and is now an active player along with the NPHCDA and the Society of Gyneacology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) in reintroducing and strengthening the training of midwives.
The first batch of the new midwives graduated in 2006. The intention is that up to four midwives will serve a basic primary health clinic (PHC) enabling 24-hour delivery services.
The NPHCDA conducted a baseline survey recently in 652 PHCs throughout the country where the midwives are or would be serving.Â Of interest to malaria control, the study reported that 73% of these facilities offered Intermittent Preventive Treatment with sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine to pregnant women, and only 48% provided insecticide treated bednets.
Providing a cadre of health workers focused women and children is an important step in malaria control. Ensuring that these staff have the resources to prevent malaria during and after pregnancy must be part of the total package.