August 24, 2017

A Liberian Woman Follows Her Dream to Make Childbirth Safer

Written by U.S. Agency for International Development

This post originally appeared on USAID website.

Trained midwives help reduce maternal mortality

August 2017—As a child, Patience Dahn used to fall asleep to the sound of her mother coaxing women through labor. She would feel herself fall asleep and then, in “the twinkle of an eye,” would hear a newborn baby crying. She remembers the sound of new life fondly, saying, “I used to love that.”

Dahn was inspired by her mother’s work as a traditional midwife in Liberia: “I used to like the way she took care of women. That’s when I started to love the career.”

Her admiration of her mother’s work led her to apply to become a registered midwife through the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts’ School of Midwifery program. In mid-April, Dahn graduated from the institute in its 61st commencement ceremony. A high-performing, deeply motivated student, Dahn received the Best Midwife Award from the local office of the World Health Organization for her outstanding academic performance. She says her mother is very proud of her and was able to attend the graduation and see her daughter’s dream become a reality.

Since February 2017, USAID, through its Maternal and Child Survival Program (link is external), has supported the institute’s School of Midwifery. The program helps fill critical teaching gaps by supporting faculty salaries and fostering a quality learning environment.

As a traditional midwife, Dahn’s mother helped women out of her home, not in a hospital or clinic. And while she is following in her mother’s footsteps, Dahn has taken it a step further by becoming a formally trained, registered midwife. She advocates for women to deliver in facilities where they can receive care for complications and have access to trained medical staff like registered midwives and doctors.

Registered midwives are often the primary provider of maternal care throughout Liberia. The country’s health workforce remains significantly below national target levels, with the greatest shortages among midwives and laboratory personnel.

With Liberia’s high maternal mortality rate of 1,072 per 100,000 women, trained midwives are critical, life-saving positions. The women trained at the institute will help women across the country deliver their babies safely, thereby helping to reduce maternal mortality. These efforts contribute to the global effort to save the lives of 15 million children and 600,000 women by 2020.

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