The policy to train midwives from all genders is to reduce the prevalent maternal mortality rates in South Sudan

By Pal Chol Nyan*


"Having male midwives was not there in Sudan because they had enough workforce in the health sector in contrast to South Sudan. The male midwives are guided by professional ethics including confidentiality, among others, which appeared to one of the complainants that the male midwives will not adhere to what they got trained for."



I read a funny story on Radio Tamazuj website that the people of Aweil and Rumbek are against mothers being delivered by male midwives. They cited two reasons: That the male midwives will develop a loss of libido ( sex drive), and  that it is against their cultures and norms. This means that it is a social taboo for another man to see the private parts of women who are not theirs. 

They might be right, as it were, if their concerns are taken in the context of traditional cultural practices. In conventional scientific and medical practice, that perception has become outdated, obsolete so it remains a superstition that has no place in contemporary medicine.

The National Ministry of Health then designed a policy to open health sciences institutes to train midwives, clinical officers and laboratory technicians with the view to take services to the villages. The medical and clinical officers run both the primary health care centers (PHCs) and county hospitals. They also train community health care workers
(CHWs) for the outreach in the primary health care units (PHCUs). The male midwives are trained to deliver mothers at states and counties hospitals. They help and
facilitate the traditional birth attendants.

With that, the aim is to reduce maternal mortality during child births. Having male midwives was not there in Sudan because they had enough workforce in the health sector in contrast to South Sudan. The male midwives are guided by professional ethics including confidentiality, among others, which appeared to one of the complainants that the male midwives will not adhere to what they got trained for.

In reality, they are trained to handle the ABC of obstetrics emergencies in the absence of the medical officers, obstetricians and gynecologists for that matter.

The specialists are called for for serious complications such as obstructed labor, previous scars of Caesarean Section, placental previa ( placenta enclosing the eternal or detached from the body of the uterus leading to a condition called antepartum hemorrhage and eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension, fits and edema).

Such cases can also be handled by a well trained medical officer or clinician. Coming back to the point that was raised in the media by our people in Awiel and Rumbek that male midwives cannot deliver mothers, it is nothing but a stigma associated with certain social beliefs that other men are not supposed to see the private parts of women who are not their wives.

The aim of training more midwives from all genders is to expand antenatal care services to the rural areas and to prevent or reduce the mortality rates. 

The previous experience I had in Sudan was that female mothers in labor must be handled by female midwives or female doctors unless otherwise. That was Islamic related. Even when a doctor examines a female patient, there must be a female nearby. That practice did not work out well and was thrown into dustbin. The male obstetricians and gynecologists can do everything.

In brief, there is nothing wrong with male midwives because it is about saving lives unless those who resist it are following a set of community values and beliefs which will take time to be eradicated.


*The author is a practicing medical practitioner. Email: palcholnyan2016@gmail.com

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