Confidence makes all the difference in caring for mothers and babies

Greater confidence in doctors and midwives is perhaps the greatest result of the ALARM International Program course that was given for the second time in September 2013 in Zimbabwe in partnership with HPIC. The course places an emphasis on practical learning and covers best practices in emergency obstetrics over five days.

Dr. Dante Pascali said that the course empowers the participants. “They go back with knowledge and skills. They feel confident that they can make a difference,” he said in an interview with HPIC. Dr. Pascali, an obstetrician-gynaecologist based at Ottawa Civic Hospital and member of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, was one of the trainers along with two other trainers from Canada and three Zimbabweans who were students in September 2012. “When I saw the Zimbabwean trainers – who were students themselves last year- in action, I was very impressed,” he said.

In total, there were 40 students, about a third were doctors and the rest were midwives and nurses. “Some had travelled up to 900 km to be there!” Dr. Pascali said.

“We had meals together, which allowed for fantastic exchanges. The Zimbabweans are experts in treating HIV. When I asked individual participants about the impact of the class, they would say things like ‘I feel confident. We will improve the quality of care at my hospital,’ ” Dr. Pascali said.

The trainer from Ottawa described the class as “the right people with great attitude. They participated because they genuinely want to improve the quality of care at their hospitals and clinics.”

The participants face “unbelievable working conditions” according to Dr. Pascali. “Here we see 30-35 patients a day. In Zimbabwe, many doctors are seeing 90-100 patients a day and many patients have malnutrition, HIV, malaria, infectious diseases.”

HPIC’s local partner in Zimbabwe was the Zimbabwe Association of Church-related Hospitals. “Those trained have been enriched, most of them appreciated the shoulder dystocia (dangerous situation that arises when a shoulder becomes stuck during childbirth) and delivery of twins and breech cases,” wrote Roseline Jack-Chidziva of ZACH. “On behalf of ZACH, I would like to thank HPIC and SOGC for the valued service you are rendering to Zimbabwean mothers and infants in the communities of Zimbabwe through equipping health professionals in maternal health.”

One of the participants, Sister K. Flerence Chipango of St. Rupert Mayer Hospital, Chinhoyi, wrote a letter to express her gratitude for the training. The AIP was “an empowering workshop for me and many others. It has replaced all my fears and anxieties about maternity calls with confidence. The passion of the facilitators showed their deep concern for mothers and babies.”

“During this course I had an opportunity to practise operative/surgical vaginal deliveries and my confidence has increased,” said another participant, Dr. Vimbai Moyana-Muguto of Hwange Colliery Hospital in Matebeleland North outside Bulawayo. “This means there will be less operative or caesarean sections.”

Local trainer Dr. Chamunyonga Felix, an obstetrician-gynaecologist at Bonda Mission Hospital in the Eastern Highlands Region, near Mozambique, says that the ALARM International Program course will have a lasting impact: “The greatest impact is the development of my skills and the skills of other participants and the communities we serve.”

For details gleaned from the reporting submitted by participating hospitals for the six-month period after the first AIP course in September 2012: