The Nigerian Midwives Service Scheme (MSS) was designed to address the scarcity of skilled birth attendants at primary health care levels. Although, Nigeria has a rich population of trained Midwives, their deployment and retention at communities in critical need for their skills remains a huge challenge. Community health workers (CHWs) are readily available and could bridge the gap of connecting the family, community and the referral facilities.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of CHWs to assess their knowledge and skills on various aspects of maternal and new born health care using structured questionnaire and focused group discussions.
Results: A total of 329 CHWs were studied. The mean duration of service provision related to Maternal new born and Child Health (MNCHs) of the participants was 8.9 years. Their general knowledge on Antenatal care (ANC) and basic midwifery was good, although majority had problems assessing gestational age using anatomical landmarks, identifying abnormal labour and diagnosing fetal distress in labor.
Conclusion: CHWs can effectively fill in the gaps in poor access to skilled birth attendance in Nigeria if given the requisite training.