Policymakers Must Do More to Support Midwives like Me
I’m a midwife in Lagos, Nigeria. I’m a health worker on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, by necessity, I am also an advocate. I work in a primary health center—the first tier of health care in Nigeria. Midwives like me run the center and provide immunizations for babies and care for pregnant women. But COVID-19 changed the care we could offer.
When the lockdown in Nigeria went into effect in March 2020, midwives in my center were scared. Many of my colleagues stopped coming to work because their partners told them to stay home. That meant we had a shortage of midwives at our facility. Shifts that would normally be eight or 24 hours instead lasted an entire week to cover for missing staffers and reduce potential COVID-19 exposure. Due to our low numbers, government restrictions, and social distancing, we had to cancel some essential services for women and their babies. Immunization clinics closed. Prenatal classes stopped. We even had to direct some women to have their babies elsewhere.
Unlike other front-line health workers, midwives were not prioritized to receive personal protective equipment. We experienced significant anxiety because we couldn’t protect ourselves and we didn’t have guidelines on properly caring for pregnant women with COVID-19. If we’re going to end the pandemic, stop preventable maternal and child deaths, and better respond to the next outbreak, policymakers in my country, as well as at donor agencies and development organizations around the world, must start prioritizing midwives.
READ five things Olajumoke Adebayo wants policymakers to do here on Devex.com. This article originally appeared on Devex.com on May 5, 2021.
WATCH Ola speak during the Frontline Health Workers Coalition's briefing for US Congress below.