South Sudan. North Sudan? What about the women? As the world's newest nation, and one of the more dangerous places on earth to give birth, we have a keen interest in South Sudan. We have been discussing the plan for North Sudan's mothers with Dr. Elhassan Elhassan, an obstetrician from the University of Gezira. His perspective is very interesting because at the University they have put in place Safe Motherhood initiatives entirely conceived of and executed by the University without outside consultancies, donors or aid.
>"The fact is that the vast majority of deliveries occur in the remote areas and subsequently under served as a major public health problem. The University of Gezira Initiative of Safe Motherhood and Childhood has built its Strategy on simple approach, the adoption of accountability, transparency and sustainability as the long arm and a base of the framework and skeleton." <
Dr. Elhassan, whom we met on LinkedIn (1), goes on to say:
>"Historically, the midwife was the grandmother. They made the history and acquired influence and [have] been always empowered by the community and local authorities. I witnessed midwives diverging under the flame of oiled cotton! For years and years in Sudan, the grandmother was the leader in the society...the real soul of Leadership and considered as a reference concerning granddaughters' bringing up, marriage, and care during pregnancy and delivery. The community used to respect her very much. Added to that, the formal training of midwives started very early in comparison to neighboring countries and since the time of the Early nineteenth [century] the education of nurses and midwives was continuously expanding and progressing. Now we can graduate midwives and nurses with Diploma, Bachelor [and are] aiming at having them holding the PhD degrees in the near future. Midwives now share us in teaching at universities as staff members and sharing the universities and faculties in making decisions. We have two channels of training midwives and nurses. One is at academic institutes, like universities and the other is at the federal ministry of health. Within the coming few days we will meet together so as to incorporate the higher education of midwives and nurses inside the universities, at the governmental level. They will come to obtain university degrees and climb up the academic career [ladder] as potential scientific human resources, continue their valued input, make their voices heard and enjoy the Leadership." What comes across in all of his communication is how highly Dr. Elhassan values the midwives of South Sudan.<
Dr. Elhassan notes the following personal reflection as a poignant example of how labeling countries can be demoralizing to its professionals:
>"I really feel very bad when I find my self labeled as from low resource country among the international meeting which I used to participate in.... I am not poor, but my country for one reason or another is considered so."<
Dr. Elhassan goes on to state that: "The world must admit the major role of the midwife as essential, crucial and strong backbone of the whole service." We could not agree more. We have been tweeting about the number of midwives in South Sudan and the number soon to be trained by Amref. It is so refreshing to have a voice from an obstetrician in Sudan and we will continue to follow up with more detail on the dramatic results attained at the University of Gezira.