Research by White Ribbon Alliance on safe motherhood in Malawi has shown that the country has a critical shortage of bedside midwives.

According to the survey Malawi has only 3420 qualified midwives who work 58.2 hours per week against 40 normal working hours.

This it says is affecting provision of maternal and neonatal services.

“Recent July 2016 bedside midwives survey highlights that women of child bearing age are more than 4.1 million, a development which makes the ratio to be 1 midwife per 1,209 women,” says the report.

It adds that Kasungu district is leading in the ratio with 1 midwife to 7,164 and Likoma is the lowest as 1 midwife takes care of 1803 women.

This prompted White Ribbon Alliance to conduct a media tour to Mulanje mission midwifery college and Kamuzu college of nursing Blantyre campus for the journalist to appreciate the job midwives play and challenges affecting their delivery of services.

According to national coordinator of White Ribbon Alliance Nancy Kamwendo Malawi needs 23,637 midwives in order to fill the gap of 20,217 as in line with world health organisation’s recommended ratio which is 1 to 175.

“Shortage of midwives is high in rural areas but they are not motivated and multi-tasked,” Kamwendo said

She pointed out that there are no established positions for midwives, which results into promotion as nurses.

Kamwendo also said poor retention of bedside midwives in public health facilities and lack of incentives stills is also a challenge.