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24 nurses enrol in nation's first college midwifery programme

The UAE's first bachelor's programme in midwifery has been launched to help reduce a shortage of qualified midwives.

The UAE's first bachelor's programme in midwifery has been launched to help reduce a shortage of qualified midwives. Dubai Women's College started the programme on March 1 with 24 registered nurses enrolled. The students are receiving theoretical and practical training in maternal, foetal and infant care. As well as being qualified to work in hospitals and clinics, they will be able work in communities and make home visits.

The college also plans to offer undergraduate courses in nursing and midwifery from September. Dr Kay Dahya, who heads the health sciences department at the college, said the programme would have a huge impact on the way the professions are viewed. "Although these students have been working in the field with knowledge and experience, they will really be able to make a difference in terms of the quality of care that they can give," Dr Dahya said. "There is a lack of awareness about how valuable midwives can be to new mothers and babies. At the moment there is not as much follow-up and antenatal care as there could be."

The current course is full time and will run for one year. In September, two bachelor's courses in midwifery and nursing are to begin, which will last up to five years. Graduates would be qualified both as nurses and midwives. According to Ministry of Health, there are about 18,000 nurses in the UAE, of whom 15 per cent are Emiratis. Low salaries, the low status of nursing and its image and working conditions are seen as contributing to the shortage of nurses.

Dr Howard Reed, director of Dubai Women's College, said the midwifery programme was an "exciting addition". Dr Behjat al Yousuf, associate director of the college, said one of the goals of the programme is to address the demand of the community and employers for highly trained medical staff. "The midwifery is a new programme introduced for the first time and is designed to meet international standards in a local context," he said.

"The programme is highly significant not only for the students but for Dubai and the UAE as a whole." munderwood@thenational.ae

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