Strengthening Midwifery Education in Timor-Leste and Nepal

Timor midwives student work 510x288

Image: Midwifery students in Timor-Leste

Burnet Institute has joined with UNFPA Asia Pacific to undertake projects aimed at strengthening midwifery education in Timor-Leste and Nepal, in an effort to reduce maternal deaths.

Burnet Co-Program Director, Maternal and Child Health, Professor Caroline Homer AO said the projects are based on findings of the global 2019 Strengthening quality midwifery education for Universal Health Coverage 2030: Framework for action which show that improving the quality of midwifery care could avert 80 per cent of maternal deaths.

“Both Nepal and Timor-Leste are working hard to reduce their high rates of maternal mortality through a focus on midwifery,” Professor Homer said.

Timor-Leste Midwifery school

Image: Burnet’s Rachel Smith with midwifery students in Timor-Leste.

Professor Homer, who is leading the projects said authorities in Timor-Leste and Nepal recognised education was key to improving the quality of midwifery care.

“Both countries are looking to improve the quality and capacity of midwives through their education programs.

“It is wonderful to be able to work with them to support the growth of midwifery in their countries which we know will improve the lives of mothers and babies,” she said.

Nepalese Baby

Image: A newborn at a maternity unit in Nepal (credit: Felicity Copeland)

In Timor-Leste, Burnet Midwife and Education Consultant Rachel Smith was invited to review the three pre-service midwifery curricula offered in the country and develop recommendations to ensure the curricula are nationally congruent and meet international standards for midwifery education and competent practice.

Ms Smith, supported by the UNFPA Timor Leste country office, met with the three education institutions that deliver midwifery education in Timor-Leste to review midwifery curricula and teaching and learning approaches.

With data gathered during the November visit, a desktop review and analysis will develop recommendations for strengthening midwifery education which will be presented and discussed at a stakeholders’ consultation workshop early in 2020.

In addition to visiting midwifery schools, Ms Smith had the opportunity to discuss inter-professional maternity emergency training, visit the national hospital, and meet with the Midwives Association who work tirelessly to improve midwifery education and regulation in Timor-Leste.

In Nepal, Burnet Midwife and Education Consultant Felicity Copeland has been working with the UNFPA Nepal country office and the Midwifery Association to undertake a rapid assessment of the capacity to deliver a new bridging program to strengthen midwifery education.

Ms Copeland recently travelled to maternity units and midwifery and nursing training facilities in Kathmandu and in two rural areas to undertake the assessment, and begin to develop the new bridging program that will support nurses to become qualified midwives.

Nepal Midwives Association

Image: Felicity Copeland with the Nepal Midwives Association.

Professor Homer and Ms Copeland will return to Nepal in 2020 to support the development of the program.

Burnet UNFPA Nepal

Image: Felicity Copeland travelled to Kathmandu and two rural areas of Nepal with the UNFPA team.

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