Q&A with Heaven Workneh

  • Name Heaven Workneh
  • Country Ethiopia
  • Title Midwife lecturer
  • Organization Bahir Dar Health Science College

In May 2017, Maternity Foundation welcomed 25 Ethiopian midwife trainers to a one-week workshop on how to integrate the Safe Delivery App into their daily life as teachers and trainers. One of the participants was 27-year-old Heaven Workneh, who is Lecturer in Midwifery at Bahir Dar Health Science College, which hosts around 1,000 students within nursing, midwifery and health extension workers.

During the week, the group was introduced to a step-by-step process on how to use the App in BEmONC (Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care) trainings. Also, they learned about the advantages of the App compared to more traditional training materials and pedagogical approaches, e.g. how the App can be used interactively during role plays, simulations, demonstrations and in group discussions.

The workshop was coordinated and hosted by Maternity Foundation’s regional office in Addis Ababa.

Q: Why did you decide to become a midwife?

A: I am very passionate about the health of mothers and I love children. When I was born, my mother gave birth at home. After delivery, she bled heavily and people from the community took her to the local health clinical. She survived, but she was very ill and not able to breastfeed, so my grandmother took care of me as a baby. I later learned from this story that my mother suffered from postpartum hemorrhage, one of the leading causes of maternal deaths. My mother had more children, but they were delivered at the hospital.

This is a story that I have carried with me.

Q: What is your background in midwifery?

A: I graduated from college as a midwife when I was 21 and I have a master’s degree in maternal and reproductive health. Since then, I have worked one year in a health center in a rural area and two years at a clinical facility. For the past years, I have been a teacher.

At the health center, I supervised health extension workers and trained them in assisting at childbirths. I also mobilized the community to seek care during pregnancy as many women preferred home deliveries. I was the first-ever midwife assigned to this area, so I went from home to home to convince the mothers to come to the facility. I also participated at community meetings to speak about antenatal care. I gave the women good care, so they started trusting me and began coming to the health center, which made me very happy.

During my time at the clinical facility, I received a lot of complicated cases as I was working at a referral hospital. Mothers would come in with their uterus ruptured after long labor, and we had to resuscitate newborns on a daily basis.

Q: Why did you decide to go into teaching?

A: During my time at the hospital, I thought that I am working to save lives every day. But if I work at a teaching institution, I can use my skills to teach many more midwives how to save lives. So for the past years I’ve been a lecturer at Bahir Dar Health Science College, which is a big school in an urban area.

Q: What is your impression of the Safe Delivery App – both as a teacher and a midwife?

A: I am very happy that this App was developed – and I wonder why we didn’t think of such a tool before!

We use the phone for everything – for Internet, for watch, for light. If you have a smartphone, you can teach everywhere with this App. Any time you encounter a problem, you can just access your phone. This makes the Safe Delivery App very accessible.

I also like that it uses animations, which makes it both interesting and attractive. I use real-life videos, which I find online, to teach my students, but sometimes there will be clinical mistakes in these videos. The videos in the App are updated, so that you can rely on the clinical content.

It is not possible to memorize all drugs, so you can look them up in the App. And if you are in an emergency, you can go to the action cards.

Q: How did the workshop inspire you to use the App as a teacher?

A: The workshop was very helpful. I am a teacher – but here I am also a student, and you learn new things every day.

As an example, we were given an assignment to integrate the Safe Delivery App into a training methodology we had used previously. I used the methodology of gaming to teach on the topic newborn management. I divided the class of trainers into two groups and asked them to use the App’s actions cards and drug list. I then gave them questions and made them compete to answer using the App as a reference tool. They were very engaged and excited about this session.

Q: How will you use the App in your work life after returning to Bahir Dar?

A: I actually used the App already on my first day back at work. I had teached hand hygiene for the students before I went to Addis for the workshop. After I returned, I used the App’s film on infection prevention to provide a summary. The students were happy about this.

Generally, I plan on showing the video first in my classes, and use them as background to discuss the themes. The students will memorize much better when they see things.

For the students who have smartphones, I will let them download the App so that they can use it as a reference tool. We have a high number of students, so there are 1,000 students for five demonstration rooms. That is not enough. But with the App at hand, they will learn about the skills, they can watch the visual aids at home, and it will be easier and more efficient for them in the skills lab. To some extent they will not even need a library.

Sometimes the students get bored, especially in the afternoon. I can use the App for gaming and group activities to engage them more, so it will make my life easier. There was nothing like this when I was a student. We had only large hardcover books at the library. My students are very lucky!

Q: What barriers do you see for using the App?

A: We discussed at the workshop that some of the videos are not fully aligned with the current national guidelines. Also, some of the students that come from the community do not have smartphones. But I will face this challenge, and I am planning to ask the local health bureau to provide phones for the classroom.