New drive to reduce maternal and infant deaths through skilling midwives

By Elias Hakizimana.

Rwanda expects to reduce maternal mortality from 210 to 83 deaths and child deaths from 20 out of 100,000 live births to 8 out of 100,000 by 2030 through a new training model that will target midwives.

The initiative is under new project dubbed “50,000 Happy Birthdays” that was launched on August 16, 2018 in Kigali by Rwanda Association of Midwives (RAM)in collaboration with International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and Laerdal Global Health (LGH).

The two year-project will be implemented in Rwanda and will especially help to train midwives so that they improve their skills, knowledge and will increase their quality of care when serving mothers. It will be led by the Rwanda Association of Midwives; with technical support from ICM supervised by Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) of the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The project will focus on training midwives and other healthcare providers in five modules (Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) and Helping Babies Survive (HBS)).

The goal of the 50,000 Happy Birthdays Program is to contribute to quality maternal and newborn care by strengthening health care providers’ competencies in saving lives at birth in the three countries (Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia). Program activities will be conducted in both health facilities and education institutions of nursing and midwifery program

Josephine Murekezi, Chairperson of RAM explained that the similar project was first implemented in Zambia and Malawi with a target to attain 10,000 Happy Birthdays.

Josephine Murekezi, Chairperson of Rwanda Association of Midwives (RAM) speaking to the press. 

She said that the training will be organized in four categories: the first category will be to train 15 supervisors, second will see training of 70 trainers among them 20 will train students-midwives and 50 will train current staff in Hospitals and Health Centers to boost their skills and professionalism as well as the quality of care.

“We are going to train current staff-midwives and students and you know that teaching is a process. We will do this following professional guidelines and available budget,” she noted.

She said that a few number of midwives that is now at 1,888 registered can be a challenge since this is not enough to attend to a huge number of wives who seek for maternity services at Rwanda’s hospitals. “We do not have a midwife in every maternity in Rwanda, one midwife sometimes attends to over 18 wives,” said Murekezi.

Ferdinand Bikorimana, Child Health Senior Officer at Rwanda Biomedical said this project comes to complement the on-going maternal and newborn child survival initiatives in the country.

He said that 210 wives out of 100,000 died in 2015, noting that with the sustainable development goals this number is expected to be reduced to 80.

“No wife should have been died while giving birth but some problems may occur and cause mortality but we will reduce them. Some of the alarming problems for that reason used to be bleeding, high blood pressure, or can also be the result of being HIV positive. We will do our best to reduce the numbers and sensitize mothers to come early at hospital so that we follow on them and stop whatever can cause mortality,” Bikorimana said.

He said that among further measures to cut maternal and infant deaths include the government’s initiative to bring maternity services at the cell level within health posts. “A mother can die due to a long journey or difficulties in transport to a hospital, I hope maternal and child mortality will be reduced to 83 percent when we first tackle these challenges,” Bikorimana added.

He said that drone innovation in transporting blood to hospitals are contributing a lot in saving mother’s lives who could suffer from anemia when giving birth and led to death.

Participants to the launch of 50,000 Happy Birthdays Project posing for a group photo.

Anna af Ugglas, Associated Programme and Implementation Manager at Laerdal Global Health said that when midwives are trained can maintain what they learnt to save lives of mothers and babies while assisting them.

Martha BOKOSI, president of International Confederation of Midwives in Malawi said that the project gave an emphasis on midwives to help them give adequate treatment as they are always closer to mothers.

Research revealed that child mortality was at 27 out of 1,000 live births in 2005, 20 out of 1,000 in 2015; and Rwanda targets to reduce these numbers to 8 out of 1,000 live births by 2030 through increasing skills, knowledge and behavior change to nurses and midwives.










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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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