"Midwives are heroes of the country": Qualitative evaluation of a midwifery education program in South Sudan

Perera, Shiromi; Isa, Guma Patrick; Sebushishe, Abdou; Sundararaj, Preethika; Piccirillo, Megan; Xia, Shanell; Langaigne, Amaya; Ali, Javed; Casey, Sara E.

Background: Countries affected by armed conflict have higher maternal mortality than stable settings. South Sudan has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world, with an estimated 789 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Long-term socio-political instability has contributed to significant challenges in its health system. To reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality, South Sudan must increase the number of skilled midwives.

Methods: A cross-sectional mixed methods study was conducted in 2022 to assess the midwifery education program at three schools receiving support from International Medical Corps in South Sudan, including in-depth interviews with 15 midwifery school graduates currently working as midwives, their supervisors, 16 school faculty (in dyads), and two Ministry of Health officials; and nine focus group discussions with women clients of graduate midwives.

Results: Participants identified strengths of the schools, including being well equipped with trained and competent teaching staff, competency-based curriculum, including practical training which prepared graduate midwives to apply their skills in practice. Weaknesses of the program included its dependence on donor funding, inadequate mentorship and number of tutors, and insufficient practice for some services due to low client load at clinical sites. Additionally, participants identified challenges affecting midwives' ability to provide good quality care, including lack of equipment and supplies, low client load, low salaries, and insecurity due to conflict. Nevertheless, women in the community appreciated the immense work that midwives do. Midwives were respected by the community at large, and graduates expressed pride and satisfaction in their job, as well as the positive impact they have had in providing critical services to communities.

Discussion: Overall, the quality of the midwifery education program appears to be strong, however gaps in the program and the provision of quality care remain. The findings highlight the need to ensure sustained funding for midwifery education, as well as health system strengthening to ensure midwives can practice their skills. Continued investment in midwifery education and training is critical to reduce high maternal mortality and morbidity in South Sudan.

Geographic Areas


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Frontiers in Global Women's Health

More About This Work

Academic Units
Population and Family Health
Published Here
October 3, 2023