June 4, 2014

2014 International Midwife Award Winners Announced

Written by ICM & Save the Children

This post originally appeared on the Healthy Newborn Network’s website here. Reposted with permission.

Prague, Czech Republic – June 3, 2014 – Pronita Rani Raha of Bangladesh and Agnes Kasaigi of Uganda were announced as the winners of the 2014 International Midwife Award, sponored by Save the Children and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) at the 30th Triennial ICM Congress.

Pronita and Agnes were among 56 midwives from 17 countries nominated for the award. They accepted the award at the Congress in Prague, Czech Republic, where more than 3,000 delegates have gathered to attend the midwives’ conference.

Sister Agnes Kasaigi, a veteran midwife in charge of the maternity unit at Uganda’s Buwenge Hospital and an expert in helping revive babies who have trouble breathing at birth.

“Sister Agnes Kasaigi is a caring and highly skilled midwife who has saved the lives of countless mothers and babies during her more than ten years at the Buwenge Hospital,” said Save the Children Country Director Barbara Burroughs. “It is a great honor for Save the Children to join the International Confederation of Midwives in presenting Sister Agnes with this prestigious award.”

As part of national efforts to reduce newborn mortality, the Buwenge Hospital was selected as one of several health centers to expand resuscitation services through the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) program. Sr. Kasaigi represented her hospital in the HBB training, and has played a key role in reducing the number of newborn deaths and stillbirths registered at the hospital.

“I received knowledge on how to help babies start to breathe. Before that training we used to get many stillbirths because we did not have the knowledge and equipment for resuscitating babies,” she said. In recent years Sister Kasaigi has become a teacher and a role model for her colleagues.

“Today the way we conduct our work is different, and so is the situation in our hospital. Initially, I would register one or two stillbirths per month, under my watch, but now I can even spend three months without handling a mother with a stillbirth. I have resuscitated so many babies – I cannot even remember the number. What I am sure of is that we have helped very many babies,” she said.

Sister Kasaigi is a mainstay at the Buwenge Hospital which serves a population of nearly 20,000. On average, the hospital receives 30 mothers a day and carries out 40 deliveries per month. Tuesdays, however, are the busiest days at the hospital, because it is a day for both antenatal care clinics and immunization for children. On such days, Sr. Kasaigi sees between 40-50 children.

Pronita Rani Raha is one of the first certified midwives to practice in Bangladesh and currently a nursing instructor at the Dhaka Nursing College.

“In Bangladesh, where midwifery is not yet established as an autonomous profession, Pronita Rani Raha is one of the few midwives who have a clear understanding of what a professional midwife is able to achieve for the well-being of women and their children,” said Save the Children Bangladesh Country Director Michael McGrath. “Pronita is one of the first certified midwives in this country and she is a leader and a role model for many young women who want to follow in her footsteps. Save the Children is honored to join the International Confederation of Midwives in presenting this award to Pronita.”

Pronita devotes six days a week to teaching future midwives, who train for six months to receive certification. In her free time, she is also an active member of the Bangladesh Midwifery Society, which she helped establish three years ago.

Pronita obtained a Master’s degree in Nursing Science (Midwifery) from Thailand where she was sent by her Government to upgrade her knowledge and skills on a high academic level. This experience was invaluable in helping Pronita to develop the Curriculum, Syllabus and Lesson Plans for the Diploma in Midwifery Program in Bangladesh from 2011-2013. Pronita also has experience in midwifery research. She recently conducted a study on the role of midwives in promoting exclusive breastfeeding.