Celebrating the Importance of Midwives in Yemen

June 10th, 2021 | News

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With the theme of Follow the Data: Invest in Midwives, the National Yemeni Midwives Association (NYMA), with support from the JSI-managed Systems, Health and Resiliency Project (SHARP), commemorated this year’s International Day of the Midwife at a conference with the Government of Yemen, UNFPA, and local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

During the celebration, USAID and JSI, through SHARP, were recognized as among the most supportive actors working to improve maternal, newborn, and child health services in Yemen. This acknowledgment came from Ishraq Al-Subaee, Yemen’s assistant deputy of the Population Sector of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MOPHP), and Suad Saleh Qasem, NYMA’s chairperson.

Dr. Al-Subaee recognized SHARP’s “significant footprint” in the three governorates in which the project works. “USAID and JSI are uniquely supporting the health sector in the country and the impact is [widely visible].” Dr. Al-Subaee also praised the community midwives’ (CMWs’) work during this difficult phase in Yemen and said that more than 3,000 people will need to be trained as CMWs over the next few years to meet the nation’s needs.

Suaad Al-Hetari, technical director of SHARP, remarked on the project’s progress and the importance of increasing the capacity of CMWs to provide health care services to Yemeni mothers and children. In the past year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, SHARP and NYMA trained 210 CMWs. These midwives provide critical services to mothers and children in their communities, and in doing so, are raising awareness about important health issues, improving health outcomes, and strengthening Yemen’s fragile health system.

Suad Saleh echoed the praise of SHARP, which began in late 2019. “Through SHARP we have [achieved] the key and the major activities of NYMA during this year. We will do more with this support from USAID and JSI,” said Dr. Saleh.

NYMA also showed a video profiling CMWs’ achievements during the pandemic and the SHARP-supported awareness campaign.

After the conference, there was a meeting to discuss the establishment of a midwifery council in Yemen. Dr. Al-Subaee chaired the meeting, which was attended by a team of technical and legislative experts from the MOPHP, international NGOs, UNFPA, and representatives from the faculty of medicine in Aden and the Higher Institute for Health Sciences. Dr. Al-Hetari was appointed assistant chairperson of the 11-person committee that will establish the midwifery council, which will improve the quality of midwifery services by setting national standards and regulations, establishing a legislative system for the profession, and providing midwifery licenses to regulate practitioners’ work. These efforts will significantly improve reproductive health care services for communities. 

Dr. Al-Hetari poses for a photo.

“I am very proud of being selected as the assistant chairperson of the committee to establish the midwifery council in Yemen,” Dr. Al-Hetari said. “This reflects the huge contribution of JSI through SHARP to improve maternal and newborn health care.”

The Systems, Health and Resiliency Project (SHARP) is a three-year (2019–2022) USAID-supported development project that works to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Yemen by focusing on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child health, and nutrition coupled with support services to mitigate life-threatening challenges, such as COVID-19, malnutrition, and diarrhea. John Snow, Inc. (JSI) implements SHARP in partnership with the National Yemeni Midwives Association, Search for Common Ground, and Yemen Family Care Association.

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