“Our mothers are dying – there are not enough midwives in this country. This is why I decided to become a midwife, to save the lives of our mothers,” said Dora Kunda, a National United Nations Volunteer (NUNV) midwife working at Wau Teaching Hospital, Western Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan, where she provides leadership, human resource support and mentors students and new and existing midwives.

She is one of 28 South Sudanese midwives participating in the Peer‑to‑Peer project that is part of the Strengthening Midwifery Services (SMS II) Project. SMS II is supported by Global Affairs Canada and led by the UNFPA in partnership with South Sudan’s Ministry of Health, the Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM) and other partners. CAM provides direct peer‑to‑peer mentoring support and technical expertise from practicing Canadian midwives, as well as other MNCH professionals.

The project has several components including the training of midwives, nurses, and other health workers at Health Sciences Institutes (HSIs) across the country. The Peer‑to‑Peer project pairs early career midwives in South Sudan with early career midwives in Canada for continuing professional development and mutual sharing. “We have been exchanging experiences to improve each other’s work and we communicate often. It has been a great partnership,” said Ms Kunda.

Wau Teaching Hospital averages between 150 and 200 births per month with a total of 9 midwives on staff. The hospital provides the public with a number of services, including antenatal care, counselling and family planning services, and houses one of UNFPA’s Gender-based violence (GBV) “one‑stop” centres. Like other health workers in South Sudan, her drive to be on the front lines of women’s health came after witnessing maternal mortality. She understands the impact of high maternal mortality as she became the primary caretaker of her co‑wife’s children after she had died from birth complications.

Ms Kunda’s peer is a Canadian midwife located in Vancouver, BC. They discuss topics like EmONC, active management of labour, the delivery of twins and other topics online through Facebook and WhatsApp. She said that the SMS II Peer‑to‑Peer project has helped her learn different approaches to work, which in turn she can share with her peers in Wau.

Ms Kunda is respected in the community and well‑liked by her students and peers. She exudes professionalism in her work and respect for her patients, but also takes the time to laugh and have fun. She and her Canadian peer will be featured in a short film to be released in 2019.

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