Mali Midwives’ Renaissance Through Tailored Education

In the heart of West Africa, Mali’s midwives are experiencing a professional renaissance, thanks to innovative educational programs and a renewed focus on sexual and reproductive health (SRH). These advancements are not only enhancing the skill sets of these vital healthcare providers but also paving the way for their career development in a country where their services are crucial to maternal and child health.

Midwives in Mali have traditionally risen to management positions within healthcare units based on clinical experience or tenure. However, this has often left them unprepared for the complexities of healthcare administration, lacking formal training to equip them for such roles. The University of Bamako has been a beacon of higher learning, offering a Research Master in SRH and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH). Yet, high fees and competitive entry requirements have made these programs less accessible to midwives, with the most recent SRH track cohort featuring only three doctors and one nurse, but no midwives.

The National Training Institute in Health Sciences (INFSS), Mali’s sole public paramedical training institute, has stepped in to bridge this gap. Since 2006, it has provided MPH, pedagogy, and medical specialties training to midwives. Recognizing the need for specialized SRH education, the INFSS, at the urging of the Association and Council of Midwives, launched a master’s level vocational training program in SRH. Developed between 2015 and 2017 and offered at a more affordable rate of $640 annually compared to the University’s $4,000, this program is tailored exclusively for nurses and midwives.

The curriculum, based on the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) standards, not only provides a pathway to CPD accreditation but also ensures that graduates meet sub-regional competencies. The use of WAHO’s curriculum is strategic, as it aligns with broader regional health objectives and facilitates cross-border recognition of qualifications.

A significant event in the program’s development was a situation analysis conducted by the INFSS in 2015. This led to a workshop that convened stakeholders from various sectors, including the Ministry of Health and Higher Education, midwifery associations, educators, and practitioners. Here, they debated the competencies that should be prioritized in the curriculum. The resulting curriculum is a two-year, four-semester program combining public health and clinical profiles – catering to midwives with at least three years of work experience and nurses with midwifery experience.

The public health profile equips students with leadership and management skills necessary for roles such as SRH program managers, researchers, planners, consultants, and senior health system managers. The clinical profile deepens their competence in managing obstetric emergencies, post-abortion care, pregnancy-related pathologies, instrumental deliveries, and ultrasound use.

This comprehensive approach has yielded tangible results. In 2019 and 2020, 33 out of 36 students graduated with a Master’s degree in SRH. A study involving graduates from the 2018 and 2019 cohorts was conducted using online surveys, semi-structured interviews (SSI), and document reviews to assess the impact of this training on their career progression. Employers and colleagues were also interviewed to provide insights into how the graduates’ new qualifications have been received within the healthcare system.

The findings revealed that graduates are highly valued for their enhanced skills and knowledge. Their training has not only improved their clinical practice but also opened doors to management and research roles that were previously out of reach. The program has been a success story in how to get CPD accredited training tailored to local needs while achieving regional recognition.

For those interested in professional development within the healthcare sector, particularly in low-resource settings like Mali, this case study exemplifies the significance of affordable, accessible education that meets both local demands and international standards. By offering digital CPD certificates, programs like INFSS’s Master in SRH ensure that midwives can prove their competencies in an increasingly digital world.

As midwives in Mali continue their journey of professional growth, they exemplify how targeted education can transform individual careers and improve healthcare outcomes. The cost of accreditation should never be a barrier to such essential progress. With institutions like INFSS leading the way, midwives are empowered to take on greater challenges and responsibilities – ultimately benefiting the communities they serve.

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