Addressing Critical Knowledge Gaps in Newborn Health

Recognizing excellence: A midwife's story

Ms. Phoebe Lolly Mashao is the 2008 Save the Children Midwife Award winner, presented by The Princess Royal at the International Confederation of Midwives Congress 2008 in Glasgow. Ms. Mashao works in Limpopo, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. Her expertise in rural community health led to her appointment as coordinator of the Limpopo Initiative to improve newborn care in the province.

Midwives are the first line newborn care providers; they are involved in newborn care before, during and after birth. They have background knowledge and skills on how to care for newborns.

At birth they are the first to identify mothers and babies at risk and are able to carry out emergency care and refer appropriately. They have the caring attitude.

Thank you to Save the Children and the Society of Midwives of South Africa (SOMSA) for nominating me in 2008. This award has raised my profile as a professional. I have received a lot of recognition from the government and non- governmental organisations including media. The recognition and award has further stimulated my interest in promoting newborn care by all means. It has motivated me to work even harder.

The recognition that I received from Save the Children has boosted not only my morale but also that of my colleagues. Because of this award I have been appointed to serve in the following committees:

  •   Represent Limpopo in Neonatal Nurses Association of South Africa (NNASA)
  •   Served as a midwife on the Treatment Task Team for the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC)
  •   Served on the Saving Babies Task team for compilation of the 6th and 7th reports on Perinatal Care in Southern Africa
  •   Served in the Perinatal Priorities Conference of Southern Africa as EXCO member 
  •   Recognised as newborn care trainer in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal provinces; preparing to roll it out nationally
  •   Involved in advanced midwifery training Limpopo Province
  •   Training final medical students under university of Limpopo on newborn care

Photo courtesy of ICM 

This year, the International Confederation of Midwives together with Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives program and the Every One campaign would like to identify and reward two midwives who have been champions for newborn survival in countries that experience the highest number of newborn deaths. You can recognize excellence in midwifery by submitting a nomination today. 

Ms. Mashao was recently appointed by the Department of Health and Social Development to be Deputy Manager Child Health for Capricorn District, where she will be coordinating all programs under child health, including newborn care.