A 2018 study in The Lancet showed that 5 million people in low- to middle-income countries died in 2016 from poor quality healthcare, and an additional 1.5 million people from not having access to care itself.
A few years ago, I met Wang Linyun, a nurse/midwife from Taiyuan Maternity Hospital in Shanxi, China. The photo below is a screenshot from an interview—she is expressing the utter desperation and helplessness she felt when she did not know how to help a baby experiencing childbirth complications. If a baby died or suffered a long-term disability, she blamed herself!But one may ask, how could a nurse/midwife in a maternity ward not know what to do? To answer that, let’s look at Wang Linyun’s pathway to becoming a midwife. Like many nurses/midwives in China and elsewhere, Wang completed her 3-year general nursing education, which included few midwifery specific courses. After attending 20 supervised births at a local hospital where she was expected to “learn on the job,” she was licensed to work as an obstetric nurse (Chinese title for midwife). In short, Wang became a midwife with little midwifery education or training.