Midwifery in low resource environments. Challenges and opportunities in maternal and reproductive health service provision

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This thesis sought to answer the question: “Are midwives in low resource countries providing the quality maternal and reproductive health services that are needed? What gaps exist?” What training improvements will better prepare midwives to provide quality maternal and reproductive health services?” This thesis is a compilation of case studies: two investigative studies for problem identification and gaps in quality in midwifery service provision and midwifery education and one project evaluation providing information about outcomes and improvements in the quality and availability of midwifery care. The first case study takes place in Afghanistan and is a presentation of the Tanahashi framework and its use to identify barriers and bottlenecks in midwifery service provision. Final results were quite disturbing, as after discounting for availability, acceptability, accessibility, contact the effective coverage remaining was 12% for urban populations and 26% for the rural population. The Tanzanian case study offers a very complete picture of the level of quality of service that can be found particularly in low-resource settings. The research provided in this thesis demonstrated that quality of services being offered by recent graduates is very low, with less than 25% passing skills testing of crucial life-saving skills. Additionally it showed that the current curriculum and training system do not meet international standards. The final case study took place in Ghana. This case study was based on a project evaluation for a training intervention. This case study presents qualitative findings that demonstrate that the teachers, the preceptors and the students all felt that the program had a positive impact. Quantitative caseload reviews revealed that the preceptors offered more long term family planning and comprehensive abortion care services in the community after this project. In the post-2015 agenda midwives have been identified as the leading providers for maternal and reproductive health services. Globally, there is an important shortage in midwives and even countries with sufficient numbers, there are grave concerns about the distribution of the midwifery workforce in low resource countries with a tendency toward a concentration in urban environments while the greatest need is in the rural areas. However an increase in the number of midwives without an increase in quality will likely be fruitless. Midwifery is diverse in every country and great differences in maternal and reproductive health exist within countries. Prior to designing interventions, assessments such as those viewed in this thesis should be completed. This is an exciting time for midwifery globally, and particularly in low resource countries. It is hoped that this thesis contributes to the growing literature regarding midwifery and that it provides some clear examples of the study of and improvement (particularly with regard to quality and availability) of midwifery services in low resource countries. While the current challenges are great, so are the opportunities.
Date of Award27 Jun 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMontserrat Solsona Pairó (Director)

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