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We Asked Five Midwives What They See on the Front Lines of COVID-19

The future of midwifery starts here.

They’re working to keep moms, babies, and themselves safe while still delivering during a pandemic. 

With every mother they care for and every baby they deliver, midwives around the world are on the front lines of COVID-19.

When many of us began to stay home and physically distance ourselves from others, nurses and midwives did the opposite. They went to work, just like always, because the health care needs of mothers and babies can’t be paused even during a pandemic.

We spoke to five midwives in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Senegal about what they’re seeing on the front lines of the pandemic, what motivates them, and what they need most right now to keep moms and babies safe. Here’s what they told us.

Theodosie Umugirwa, Rwanda:

Midwife Theodosie Umugirwa.

Photo courtesy of Theodosie Umugirwa.

I became a midwife to help the nation when it needs help. Midwives know how to heal the sick, ease their pain, and comfort them. It’s important for us now to stay calm and avoid being stressed.

Now, during COVID-19, women are confined, which affects their ability to access services.

We need to continue to show empathy to our clients and provide respectful maternity care. We need to protect our clients, our colleagues, our families, ourselves, and our communities.

Amoin Adéle Désirée Elui Aka, Côte d’Ivoire:

Being a midwife means helping those who are suffering without expecting anything in return. To be a midwife, you must have love for your neighbor, whatever the health crisis.

We need to help and save mothers and babies. We need to protect them and protect ourselves, because midwives are there at the beginning of life, and we must help give life while keeping mothers safe.

Petronille Musengente, Rwanda:

Midwife Petronille Musengente

Photo courtesy of Petronille Musengente.

Because of the quarantine, it is difficult for mothers and midwives to move. There is so much fear of being in contact with COVID-19 and the lack of transportation makes access to maternal health services difficult.

All midwives should keep their courage and never give up saving lives, even if it’s difficult. But protection is crucial, and you must protect yourself and mothers and babies. We should all be helping mothers by raising their awareness about COVID-19, including about the signs and symptoms and prevention.

We give, protect, and save lives without thinking about ourselves. If we work together, nurses and midwives can help reduce the number of unnecessary deaths in the world.

Rokhayatou Gueye, Senegal:

Midwife Rokhayatou Gueye

Photo courtesy of Rokhayatou Gueye (left).

Even when suffering from other illnesses, many mothers are now afraid to go to health facilities because of COVID-19. I’ve seen a decrease in attendance at health facilities and failures to meet appointments. We need to strengthen communication and raise awareness.

Omar Mohamed, Ethiopia:

Midwife Omar Mohamed. As of May 1, there were 133 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ethiopia. Six were in the Somali region, where I work.

There is ongoing effort in the region and country to prevent COVID-19 through social distancing, staying home, handwashing with soap, strengthening surveillance systems at health facilities and communities, screening and referring suspected cases, contact tracing, and case management. Similarly, we are integrating our routine maternal, neonatal, and child health care services with COVID-19 prevention in the health facilities.

Based on the data of the last quarter's DHIS 2 report in the Somali region of Ethiopia, COVID-19 is negatively affecting health services, including essential services like antenatal care, institutional delivery, postnatal care, and immunizations. Staying home to prevent COVID-19 may lead to more home deliveries in the communities and low uptake of maternal and child health services.

This isn’t our first time facing such a serious and deadly infectious zoonotic disease. We have been hit by HIV, MERS, SARS, Zika, and Ebola, and nurses and midwives were on the front lines. They responded to these deadly viruses and helped global communities when they were in need. Some of our beloved nurses and midwives lost their lives.

Today, COVID-19 is only different because the world is finally witnessing our professional services and contributions.

We need to stand for nurses and midwives and learn from our sister Florence Nightingale. Nurses and midwifes are the backbone in preventing and controlling COVID-19 and improving the health and well-being of global communities.

We all love and care for our patients and families and that care always gives us happiness. So we should believe that all global communities are our patients and families and care for them and receive love and happiness in return.

Want to help midwives and other frontline health workers stay safe as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic? Donate to the COVID-19 Frontline Health Worker Fund to help get them the equipment and resources they need to keep themselves and their clients safe and healthy.

Donate now.

Stay tuned for more stories from midwives and nurses around the world all week on VITAL. And join the conversation:

#GivingTuesdayNow #MidwivesLead #IDM2020 #HealthWorkersCount #IThank