Strengthening midwives’ competencies for addressing maternal and newborn mortality in Tanzania: Lessons from Midwifery Emergency Skills Training (MEST) Project

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa



In Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), maternal and infant mortality remains a significant problem. Inadequate healthcare provider competencies, including those of midwives, are cited as one of the major contributors to the high maternal and newborn mortality rates. Thus, enhancing the skills of midwives is a prerequisite for enhancing positive maternal and newborn health outcomes. This study describes the lessons learned from a Midwifery Emergencies Skills Training (MEST) project implemented in Tanzania between 2013 and 2018.


An exploratory qualitative study was used to purposefully recruit and interview twelve health facility in-charges and eighteen midwives from twelve selected health facilities in six districts of Tanzania mainland to discover their perceptions about the midwifery practice after MEST training. The data were transcribed verbatim and analysed with qualitative content analysis.


Four categories were generated from the analysis (i) enhanced knowledge and skills in the provision of midwifery care and management of obstetric emergencies, (ii) improved midwives’ communication skills, (iii) increased trust and support between midwives and community and (iv) transformed attitudes of midwives toward continued professional development (CPD).


MEST enhanced the knowledge and skills of midwives in the management of obstetric emergencies and referral protocol practice. However, notable gaps remain in the capacity of midwives to provide human rights-based respectful maternity care. Continued professional development for nurses and midwives through training, mentorship and supervision programs is recommended for improving maternal and newborn health.

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