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Closing the midwife gap in Nigeria


Midwives are essential in primary health care, providing support to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery in hospitals, birthing centres, and private homes.

Their primary focus is on the well-being, comfort, and safety of women throughout the entire childbearing process.

However, in Nigeria, there is a significant shortage of midwives, with only six midwives available for over 10,000 people, according to a 2021 State of the World’s Midwifery report.

This shortage is even more pronounced in the northern part of the country, where maternal and childcare needs are unmet.

To address this shortage, the United Nations Population Fund called for an additional 70,000 midwives in Nigeria by 2030.

This will result in improved maternal health and reduced maternal and child mortality rates, as well as increased access to quality healthcare services for women and children.

Additionally, the creation of new job opportunities for midwives will help to reduce unemployment and improve the standard of living in the country.

Steps to becoming a midwife

In Nigeria, the responsibilities and functions of midwives may vary from those in other countries, but they must fulfill the following minimum requirements:

This involves completing an accredited midwifery programme and fulfilling the licencing criteria established by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).

  1. Complete a secondary school education with credits in relevant science subjects such as biology, chemistry, and physics.
  2. Enrol in a recognised midwifery programme at a school of nursing or midwifery accredited by the NMCN. There are many institutions that offer midwifery programmes, including universities, colleges of nursing and midwifery, and teaching hospitals.
  3. Complete the midwifery programme, which typically takes two to three years, depending on the institution and programme. The curriculum covers antenatal care, labour and delivery, postpartum care, neonatal care, and family planning.
  4. You must take and pass the NMCN-administered licensure examination after completing the midwifery program.
  5. Once you pass the licencing examination, you will be registered with the NMCN as a certified midwife and can legally practise midwifery in Nigeria.

Writing by Annabel Nwachukwu; Editing by Saadatu Albashir