St. Albert’s Mission Hospital Requests Help Purchasing Midwifery Teaching Aids

St. Albert’s Mission Hospital director Dr. Elizabeth Tarira has requested help obtaining teaching aids for a new midwifery training program for nurses. Dr. Tarira notes that most of the needed items are unavailable in Zimbabwe and must be purchased abroad and shipped to the hospital.

Background on the hospital and the needs of the midwifery program

By Elizabeth Tarira, MD, MPH

St Albert’s Mission Hospital (Catholic) has been founded in 1962 by the Jesuit Fathers who have since left this mission in 1999. Now the mission is in the hands of the local priests. The International Medical Association a lay missionary group is running the Hospital on behalf of the Bishop of Chinhoyi. Today, the Hospital and clinics conduct over 4,000 deliveries in a year while expected pregnancies are 5,252 in a year.

Short analysis of the Hospital’s activities

When this Hospital was opened in 1964 it had only 85 beds, but with the help of friends it now has a capacity of 140. The bed occupancy rate is always above 80 percent. It had to grow to this size because the population was increasing and this is the only Hospital in a District with a surface area of 2,744 Sq kilometres.

The Hospital renders services to a population of about 160,000, with many more coming from neighbouring districts. There are eleven rural health Centres [clinics] affiliated to this hospital, so it functions as a referral institution. The Hospital has the following departments: Female & Male wards, Paediatric, Rehabilitation, Out Patients, Mother and Child, Maternity, Theatre, X-ray and Laboratory. Many services and activities are also rendered: preventive, curative—including providing antiretroviral therapy to HIV patients—and domicile visits to chronically ill patients in the villages through a home-based care program.

In 1986, the Government if Zimbabwe asked the Hospital to function as a District Hospital. Through the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the hospital receives salaries for some qualified staff, medicines if they are available, and a small grant for the running costs. The capital expenditure and major equipment needed by the Hospital have to be provided by the mission and have also to supplement the running costs [emphasis added by BHA].

In 2005, the government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, approached us to start a Training School for Nurses in July 2006, which we did. So far, 120 Primary Care Nurses have been trained for the nation.

Again this year in June 2010, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare asked us to train midwives, who are in short supply. The government pays the students while they train and employs them at the end of training, give [provides] the Tutors and pays them.  The teaching aides were promised, but we had to look for partners since the country is going through a deep social and economic crisis. With the training of midwives we will need more trainers, but we are not sure if this will be feasible since we need to build some staff houses as well.

That is the reason we have turned to you our friends so that you can give us a hand. We can start with a small number then await the divine providence to assist.

  1. We accepted this offer though it’s a big challenge. If we train the nurses, we as a church will be contributing to the development of this country. Zimbabwe has experienced an acute “brain drain” many professionals have fled out of the country because it was impossible to survive and they could not send their children to school. Who suffer are the poor, because these cannot afford to go out of the country.
  2. The hospital does not now have enough staff to render standard services in maternity and also in the clinics. Having the training school, the students will give a hand and after completion of training some will be employed in our Hospital and in our District.
  3. The HIV/AIDS pandemic leaves many orphans stranded. The Hospital through a Home Based Care Program is sending to school over 600 orphans to school. Foster parents who adopt them at a long distance pay the school fees, uniforms and books. Most of these parents are in Italy. These vulnerable children will have a chance to get a profession and employment and at least be able to read and write.

The benefits of midwifery seem to weigh more than the difficulties we may encounter at the beginning. We want to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Goals by 2015; by reducing maternal and child mortality.


The Hospital Executive represented by Dr Elizabeth Tarira MD, MPH, is requesting to be helped with training aides for the Midwifery Training School that is to be opened. The intake will be of 18-20 students at a time.

Teaching aids needed for the school

Item Quantity Ideal quantity
Gynaecoid Female Pelvis 1 2
Android Female pelvis 1 2
Anthropoid Female pelvis 1 2
Foetal skull 1 2
Breast 1 2
Model doll with fontanel 1 2
Baby Bath Basins 1 2
Models of vaginal examination from 1cm to 10cm 1  
Placentas 1 2
Autoclave 1×5 litres  
Sonic aid 1 2
Resuscitor 1  
Heaters electric 2 bars 2 5
Laryngoscopes 5  
Oral airways 10 20
Baby scale, bathroom scale 1 each 2 each
Bulb syringes 10  
Laptop windows 7 1 3
Filing cabinets 1 2
Episiotomy scissors 10 20
Suction machine 1  
Model Foetal circulation 1 2


Book Author Quantity
Midwives African Edition Margaret Myles 20
Midwives research Books   20
Anatomy and PhysiologyJournals Sylvia Verralls 2020
Midwifery Dictionaries   20
Obstetric Calendars   20

 Needed for the Maternity Ward

Item Quantity                       Ideal
Isolates/Incubators 3                                     6
Resuscitor big 1                                     2
Proper Delivery beds 2                                     3
Kick about stands 3                                     4
Auroscope 1

The requirements are so many, but if we have books we will start with whatever is available.

Compiled by
Dr Elizabeth Tarira MD, MPH
Medical Superintendent