x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Minister calls for Emirati midwives

Dr Hanif Hassan Ali says profession plays a crucial role in health.

DUBAI // There is an "urgent need" for more nationals to becomes midwives, Dr Hanif Hassan Ali, the Minister of Health, said yesterday. Speaking at the Third Midwifery Conference in Dubai, Dr Ali said the ministry had been investing in education programmes but more Emiratis needed to see both professions it as an attractive choice of career.

"There is an urgent need to encourage UAE nationals to enrol in the fields of midwifery and nursing, to increase the number of national midwives and nurses," he said. "Great hopes are attached to their role in improving the quality of maternal and child health." The Ministry of Health recently signed a partnership agreement with the Higher Colleges of Technology to expand nursing education in the Northern Emirates, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah.

At the conference, attended by more than 300 nurses and midwives, Dr Ali presented certificates to the first 23 midwives to graduate from a national programme. The one-year programme, the bachelor of applied science in midwifery, was run by the Dubai Women's College with assistance from the Dubai Health Authority. "The undergraduate programme will facilitate national sustainability," said Rosie Essay, the course leader.

"We wanted to provide women in the UAE a midwifery service comparable to the developed world," The largest challenge of the programme is that the concept of the midwife was foreign to many people in the country. "I spoke to many Emirati students and once they understood what a midwife was, they said it was something that they might want to pursue," she said. At the moment, only a small number of midwives in the country are nationals.

"We are badly needed in this country," said Khadija al Sulaimi, a 28-year-old Emirati and recent graduate of the course. "Midwives are the leaders of normal birth. When we are involved, there are less Caesareans, and less interventions. "We need to challenge the present attitudes at hospitals about birth." She said having Emirati midwives would help provide culturally appropriate assistance for women in labour.

"We are needed to empower women within the UAE." The conference at Dubai Festival City is being held under the patronage of Princess Haya, the wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.