U.S. Ambassador Visits School of Midwifery in Makeni

U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria E. Brewer, announced the opening of a new skills lab, library and computer lab at the School of Midwifery (SOMM) in Makeni. The U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (www.HRSA.gov) with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR) carried out the necessary renovations, procurement and installation of equipment, training, policy development, and integration of skills-based learning into the curriculum.

The Ambassador was joined by Dr. Alpha T. Wurie, Minister of Health, and was welcomed by the Head of the School, Ms. Francess Fornah.

The new skills lab at the School of Midwifery Makeni provides simulation-based education and training. This complements other, more traditional forms of training. It provides the advantage of teaching and assessing competence in management of rare yet life threatening events such as post-partum hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia, and birth asphyxia. Through simulation, students are able to become adept at clinical service delivery in a safe and supportive environment.

The School of Midwifery Makeni (SOMM) is an institution established in 2010 by Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS). Since its inception in 2010, the school has enrolled 712 students and graduated 467 midwives, who were deployed by MOHS to various districts; 97 students are awaiting graduation by May 2019. The School trains State Certified Midwives (SCM), which is a two (2) year upgrading program of State Enrolled Community Health Nurses (SECHN) to SCM.

Midwifery training programs aim to produce competent and multi-skilled midwives who will in turn provide high quality and safe reproductive services to pregnant women, the unborn child, and neonate, throughout pregnancy, through childbirth, and the postnatal period, in any setting. The focus of the educational program is to provide Skilled-Birth Attendants (Midwives) who will provide quality, comprehensive midwifery services to individuals and families.

In addition to the basic theoretical instruction received in the classroom, students receive clinical instructions in the clinical lab and practice settings in maternity units.

The Sierra Leone Nurses and Midwives Board accredited SOMM to train professional SECHN with 2-year post-enrolment experience as State Certified Midwives.  The course duration is 24 months. SOMM also trains obstetric nurses (SRNs and SECHNs) from St. John of God-Faith based nursing training school for a period of 3 to 5 months, on basic obstetrics and Midwifery, which are critical component of their curriculum.

HRSA’s Resilient and Responsive Health Systems (RRHS) Initiative is a 5-year, US$ 9.5 million grant which includes a heavy emphasis on achieving improved maternal health and HIV outcomes through strengthened midwifery education. The prime recipient of the RRHS grant is ICAP at Columbia University.

Following the ribbon cutting, there was a discussion about the importance of skills-based education and training followed by a demonstration of the high fidelity mannequins.

In 2017, the Health Resources & Services Administration (or HRSA) became the seventh U.S. government agency to join the U.S. Mission in Sierra Leone.  HRSA, like U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

In May 2018, Ambassador Brewer also commissioned a skills lab, library and computer lab at the National School of Midwifery in Freetown.

George Tidwell, Country Office Director for HRSA, and Dr. Susan Michaels-Strasser, Principal Investigator, ICAP at Columbia University, accompanied Ambassador Brewer to Makeni.