Pakistan: Midwives Gain Recognition But Concerns Remain
Three years ago, Kanwal Gul participated in a one-week training in community midwifery as part of a UNICEF pilot project—and now she runs a birthing center in her village, just north of Karachi.
“…Qadir Dino, the village councilor, credits Gul for the decline in maternal deaths in Gul’s village. ‘Fewer mothers are dying while giving birth,’ he says, albeit without citing any data.
‘Earlier, whenever there was a (pregnancy) complication, we would rush the expectant mother to any of the hospitals in the adjoining towns of Hala and Bhit Shah,’ says Dino.
Transport is a big problem, he says, since it is also very expensive. ‘And once we reach the hospital, there is no guarantee that they (the medical staff) will entertain us, since we’re poor and uneducated. We usually run from pillar to post, and even after paying are unable to get quality treatment,’ Dino explains.
‘With the birthing station, at least we know that if there is a complication, Gul will handle it or refer us to the hospital, and with her note, we can now expect them (hospital staff) to attend to our patients,’ says Shah Khatoon, mother of four.
A UNICEF birthing station project helped ensure the development of a strong referral system of community midwives (CMWs) with doctors from hospitals…”