A KENYAN MIDWIFE IS THE UN PERSON OF THE YEAR 2011!
Wonders will never cease to happen in everyday life, some happenings bring good tidings and other times bad tidings too. So one of the good tidings that have happened to my nursing profession is that one of us caught the eye of the United Nation Headquarters. The announcement of the 10th UN PERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD 2011, went to none other than a dedicated and selfless nurse –midwife who has worked for the last 17years in the rural areas delivering women day and night in the most challenging environment .It is not bread and butter for an individual to wake up one morning and win the award, UN sets standards in vetting for a particular individual who has hardly been heard within the media, but has made great strides in helping communities to achieve the Millennium Development Goal. This initiative by the UN in Kenya has been on since 2002.
The award comes at a time when Kenya is experiencing challenges in maternal health with doctors issuing strike notices and nurses raring to go to greater heights by migrating to the US, Europe and Australia in search of greener pastures. According to the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and WHO the world is in dire need of health work force and Kenya’s case is unique in that 300-400 nurses migrate annually. The push factor here is the poor working condition, long hours of working, inadequate remuneration among others that seem to cut across the health care system in developing countries. On the other hand Ouagadougou Declaration Article 4 Item 4 calls upon governments to ‘implement strategies to address the human resources for health needs and aimed at better planning ,strengthening of capacity of health training institutions, management ,motivation and retention in order to enhance the coverage of health care’ (WHO 2008).
So what motivates Pamela Achieng the Midwife to do what she does best?
I see Pamela as an astute midwife who has followed the Principles of Nursing and ethics that guide this profession to protect the lives of men, women and children in totality. Ascribing to the ICN code of Ethics that of the Nurse with the People and as an advocate of change. All this principles are oaths taken prior to graduating from a Nursing School. The theories made by the mothers of nursing and professional pathway in Nursing describes that as an individual your duty is to assist the sick to achieve independence so as to resume activities of daily living.
I truly walk this journey with Pamela with much nostalgia during my clinical nursing years when fatigue would set in and patients would scream from right, left and centre for attention. The midwife has presented altruism of a profession that is predominantly feminine. In the 21ST Century a nurse /midwife using a lantern to visualize her clients at night should not be the thing in today’s world of technology. It brings back memories of the founder of Nursing –Florence Nightingale who used the same lantern to attend to the army casualties and in her fatigue to care for the wounded she died a painful death. To this date she symbolizes paternalistic roles in a profession that has a confounded body of knowledge and evidence based practice, that perhaps the public finds solace to perceive it that way.
I honor my colleague Pamela for this prestigious award that signifies the professionalism and a commitment in small innovations to achieve the maternal mortality and morbidity reduction. The UN goal to recognize this achievement has reflected in 2011 International Confederation of Midwives which was held in South Africa. The UNFPA played a key role in the report of the STATE OF MIDWIFERY IN THE WORLD. More midwives translate to women’s lives being saved during childbirth. This kind of resilience gives hope to other professional women to aspire to achieve their dreams and desires to make the world a better place.