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The inspiring role of a midwife in rural Zambia during COVID-19

Moses Nkosi, was born and raised in rural eastern Zambia in a family of 7. Despite the social and economic challenges he faced, he remained determined to pursue his dream of a career in health. During his childhood, Moses fell ill and was taken to hospital. Amidst his pain, Moses drew inspiration from the health workers that attended to him to one day become like them. Today, Moses is living that dream and continues to use that inspiration to save lives in rural western Zambia as a midwife.

During a UNFPA humanitarian mission to Sioma District of Western Province, Moses shared his experience of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected health service delivery in his duty station that covers a population of over 7000.

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have experienced low antenatal turn up and coverage as many women avoided coming for antenatal care services in fear of contracting the virus. In the same vein, we also experienced low institutional deliveries as well as high rates of unsafe abortions.

Noting the above challenges, Moses committed to be involved in interventions to reverse the situation in his community by taking on the extra responsibility of community sensitization and engagement meetings with key stakeholders and leaders.

I have had several meetings with the traditional leaders to lobby for their involvement to make sure that no woman delivers at home. In my monthly outreach, I have also spent time reaching out to at least 40 women in each of the 5 satellite health post on the dangers of starting antenatal late, home delivery, using traditional oxytocin and many more.

As a result of these and many other interventions, the community has experienced a notable change in perception and health service seeking behaviour with more women and girls now seeking health services from the facilities.

Midwives play a central role in the provision of quality health care especially during pandemics and other humanitarian situations. Moses’s inspiring story is one of many dedicated frontline health workers, who despite being at risk themselves, continue to save lives in some of the most hard to reach communities.

UNFPA in Zambia is supporting the government as part of the national COVID-19 response plan to ensure frontline health workers are safeguarded with essential personal protective equipment as they continue to save lives.