Loveluck Mwasha, a midwife and lecturer at The Aga Khan University (AKU) School of Nursing and Midwifery – Tanzania has received the coveted Midwife for Life Award 2017.
Amina Sultani of Afghanistan also received a similar Award presented by Save the Children, and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) at the ICM 31st Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada.
The midwives have been awarded for their outstanding roles in developing the profession in their countries despite all odds. ICM President Frances Day-Stirk and Save the Children President and Chief Executive Officer Patricia Erb jointly presented the awards.
Mwasha who has practiced midwifery for 30 years is a staunch advocate for the midwifery profession, midwives’ improved working conditions and improved health for mothers and new-borns in Tanzania.
She has also been a “steadfast advocate for and mentor” to midwives through her work on the board of the Tanzania Nursing and Midwifery Council and at The Aga Khan Hospital and AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery.
“My work is an opportunity to advocate for better support and training of midwives,” Mwasha said. “We work with stakeholders to help them appreciate midwives’ role in supporting women’s reproductive health, from community groups to members of parliament.”
In Tanzania, 257 women and their babies die due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth which means 93,800 deaths each year, 70 percent or more of which are preventable with proven and effective interventions.
Midwives are seen as the single most important cadre for preventing maternal and new-born deaths and stillbirths.
Especially in humanitarian contexts and for poor or hard-to-reach populations, midwives provide the majority of immediate care to mothers and new-borns, often without support, materials, training, or recognition.
Mwasha has been a lecturer at the University since July 2015 and teaches Reproductive Health Nursing –midwifery, coordinating electives course. Her research interests are in midwifery focused care during labour, delivery, immediate postnatal care for mother and neonatal.
Her debut in midwifery practice was when she single-handedly attended to a woman who had just delivered and her baby was in poor condition.
“It was in the evening and I was alone with all the candle lights. The baby was flat, not crying and in poor condition but I managed to resuscitate her and she survived. From that moment I gained the confidence and that is where my career as a midwife took off,” said Mwasha in an interview ahead of the ICM Congress.
She said the Award has motivated her to pursue her passion for imparting knowledge that will boost quality healthcare for women and children in Tanzania.
“I commit to help my students discover themselves and become midwives who are competent and can confidently deliver quality maternal and new-born care,” said Mwasha.
Mwasha attributes her exemplary achievements to the training she received at AKU and senior midwives she worked with at the time she began practising midwifery.
She holds a Master’s of Science in nursing degree from AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery Karachi, Pakistan and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the AKU School of Nursing, Tanzania Institute of Higher Education (TIHE).
The ICM President said the needs of midwifery across multiple settings – humanitarian, marginalised, or hard to reach – are remarkably similar.
“Both Loveluck and Amina are working for the same goals in very different settings: for the recognition of their work, supportive policies, and the training and resources they need to enable mothers to give birth safely and their new-borns to get a healthy start in life,” she said.
Save the Children President said she was “impressed” by the level of interest in the awards this year.
Of the more than 50 nominations from 18 countries, Erb said, “It’s heartening to see this clear evidence of midwives speaking up and making a difference in policies and practices that affect midwifery and the conditions under which midwives work.”
The ICM is highlighting some of the challenges midwifery faces at the policy and facility level this week at its 2017 Triennial Congress in Toronto.