Zambia

‘I am proud to be making a difference!’

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A happy mother who delivered safely with the assistance of a midwife holds her newborn baby. © UNFPA Zambia

CHAMA DISTRICT, Eastern Province, Zambia – Kingsley

Musama is the only midwife working at Chikwa Rural Health Center, which serves a remote area with a population catchment of 11,880.

As the only person skilled in this area at the clinic, he makes himself available around the clock – and his day starts at 4 a.m. Every day, he faces serious challenges as he carries out his life-saving work, from lack of electricity to shortages of equipment, and lack of transport to get pregnant women to the nearest health facilities.

Yet he remains optimistic. “I would like to help as many women as possible, despite all the difficulties,” he says.

Tackling maternal health with innovation

A direct-entry male midwife, Mr. Musama has worked for the Ministry of Health for four years. As the only midwife in the area, he provides midwifery services to four other clinics as well. The enormity of his task has led him to think innovatively, to surmount the obstacles faced by women when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health.

“I work in a very remote and poor area, thus I came up with an initiative we call ‘community midwifery’ – we take midwifery services directly to the communities. This initiative has saved many women from dying due to pregnancy complications,” he says.

In addition to midwifery services, Kingsley provides family planning counselling, breast cancer awareness and reproductive health education to women and their families. He has set up reproductive health focus groups at which he educates mothers on safe motherhood and encourages exclusive breastfeeding.

Mr. Musama also works with community-based volunteers to encourage women to deliver in health facilities and not at home.

His contributions have helped reduce the maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity levels in Chama District and Eastern Province as a whole.

“I feel proud to be making a difference as a midwife,” he says.

His contributions have changed the lives of many families in his area. Couples,

women and girls seek antenatal and postnatal consultations with him. He also advises couples on contraception and offers health education.

Making delivery safe for women

Mr. Musama’s working day is a busy one. “I start with conducting manual vacuum aspirations (MVAs) [from 4 a.m.] until 6 am. After that I attend to outpatient department (OPD) patients – about 85 to 90 patients until 2 p.m. From then onwards, I attend to maternal and child health (MCH), family planning, antenatal and postnatal clients.”

But safe delivery is his top priority. “If there is a woman who is about to deliver, I stop whatever I am doing and attend to her,” he says.  

He would like to advance his midwifery education. “I have greatly benefited from Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC) training under the H4+ Programme, which is jointly supported by UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, UNAIDS and the World bank, and funded by CIDA. I have also benefited from several training programmes on Helping Babies Breathe under the Midwives Association of Zambia,” he says.

He aims to reach and assist as many families as possible in his community, and to continue making a difference in their lives. And he encourages others – men, especially – to join the midwifery profession. Apart from making an important contribution to saving the lives of women and babies, this will dispel the myth that women prefer female midwives, he says.

By Precious Zandonda