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“When a woman leaves the hospital with her newborn, smiling, it fills my heart with joy”: A story of a Rwandan Midwife.

Mugisha Philippe is a proud Rwandan male midwife. He graduated in 2017 and has 2 years experience working as a midwife at Kibagabaga Hospital, Kigali.  Mugisha has served on the frontline teams of COVID-19 at Kanyinya Center for the last month.

My journey as a Midwife

“When I started midwifery school, I didn’t know what midwifery was, nor its difference from nursing. I was even given a chance to change my mind. I fell in love with this profession because of the healthy outcomes of it, there is nothing better than saving a pregnant woman’s life and their newborn and put a smile on her face. When a woman leaves the hospital with her newborn, smiling, it fills my heart with joy. This is the only profession that gives you the unique opportunity to partner with women and to build trusting and reciprocal relationships through the continuum of pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period. It is a good profession.”

"When a woman leaves the hospital with her newborn, smiling, it fills my heart with joy. This is the only profession that gives you the unique opportunity to partner with women and to build trusting and reciprocal relationships through the continuum of pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period. It is a good profession.”

 

Midwifery in Rwanda

“In Rwanda, Midwifery is improving daily. If you compare to a few years ago when we started, today we are recognized, people start to understand our role and contribution to the health sector. They now value our profession and ideas, we get support from doctors and hospitals where we work, there are new protocols, and the Rwanda Association of Midwives (RAM) does everything to support us, including providing mentorship, seeking partnership with different organizations, and being on our side on a daily basis.

We meet many challenges though, and some of those challenges are the reason why people are discouraged to join our profession. We have a lot of work, and we are not many, the number of midwives is still low compared to their work, for example at Kibagabaga Hospital where I work, we can have between 500 and 600 deliveries per month, which makes our schedule very busy and doesn’t allow us to get some rest and that may have impact to our outcomes in general.

There is a need to invest in strengthening the midwifery workforce. In many areas, there simply aren’t enough midwives to do all this work effectively. Even where they are present, many lack the power, training, equipment and medical supplies to deliver the basic health services we all need. Midwifery education is expensive, and our salaries are very low. Midwifery students and professionals should be supported.

 

In the context of Covid-19 response in Rwanda

“During this period of coronavirus outbreak, midwives are crucial to promoting maternal and newborn and in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. Women continue to get pregnant, and babies are still being born. Midwives are working tirelessly in communities, health centers, hospitals and sometimes in women’s homes under difficult circumstances, often risking our own lives and well-being. Apart from that, we are also supporting other teams at the frontline at the COVID 19 treatment and isolation sites, sometimes adding work to what we usually do, and at the same time protecting ourselves. It’s challenging, it requires dedication and commitment. In the first days I was assigned to the emergency team at Kanyinya Health center, one of the main centers that accommodate COVID 19 patients. It was a very good experience, that period tested my love and passion for this profession. I learnt a lot, I leant to be strong and professional, to follow measures and protocols in place, put our patients first and protect them, to keep updated and use my time wisely. The main challenge was to work in a new team, we all came from different hospitals, and had to get along very quickly and put our efforts together in order to save our country. We are doing a good job, you can see it through the numbers.”

 

Celebrating the International Day of the Midwives 2020

“As we celebrate the International Day of Midwife, I just want to say: we love midwifery, we love it, we love it from the bottom of our hearts. We appreciate the support we get from the government, RAM, ICM, UNFPA, CONAMA. I loved the way, amidst difficulty our leaders including H.E Paul Kagame kept supporting us, that means a lot to all of us midwives. This year's commemoration is not easy, we will not be able to meet and celebrate our achievements as we always do, but we are happy and proud of our contributions towards improving sexual, reproductive, maternal, and newborn health outcomes. We should not focus on our challenges, but on delivering effective results. Let’s all work together and take our profession to another level.”

"We should not focus on our challenges, but on delivering effective results. Let’s all work together and take our profession to another level.”

 

Midwives have shown great resilience and courage in countries facing humanitarian emergencies and at the frontlines of COVID-19 response.  They continue to provide the essential healthcare and life saving services to pregnant women and their newborns. UNFPA remains committed to protecting the maternal health workforce as a means of maintaining maternal health systems providing safe and effective maternity care to women and their babies.