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Midwives play an integral part in life – UNFPA

The UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem

May 5, 2021 3 min read

3 min read

THE UNFPA, (United Nations Population Fund) Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem says midwives save the lives of women and babies as well as promote health and well-being of entire communities.

She said midwives therefore deserve everybody’s respect and gratitude.

The midwives, Dr Kanem deserve greater investment in their capabilities, and workplaces that empower them and fully acknowledge their skills and contributions

She made the remarks on Wednesday during the celebration of the International Midwifery Day.

The day is commemorated annually to honour midwives for their big contribution towards the health of their nations and to increase awareness about the midwives’ contribution towards their patients all over the world.

“The latest edition of the State of the World’s Midwifery report launched today by UNFPA, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICW) affirms that if we increase the number of midwives and the quality of care they provide, we would save an estimated 4.3 million lives a year by 2035. Universal coverage of midwife-delivered interventions by 2035 would avert 67 percent of maternal deaths,” noted Dr Kanem.

Such achievements, she said depend on midwives gaining better education and training, along with comprehensive and supportive workplace regulation.

She said they must have a greater role in professional leadership and governance, and scope to use their unique experience to drive advancements in health policies and service delivery.

She added: “Midwives often work under extraordinary circumstances. They may walk miles to reach women or open space in their own homes to help them safely give birth. They faced increasing pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened inequalities in their workplaces. Often short on protective gear and with less access to vaccines than other healthcare workers, midwives have put their own lives at risk serving others.”

Such dedication, she said is an invaluable resource, yet too many health systems depend on it without commensurate backing of midwifery as a profession.

This, she said will short-circuit ambitions to reach the goal of zero preventable maternal deaths by 2030.

The theme for this year is, ‘Follow the data, invest in midwives.’

It is based on on-going and growing efforts to centre midwives as fundamental to ending preventable maternal and new-born deaths and achieving SDG 3.1 (reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030).

This year’s edition of the International Day of Midwives also coincides with the launch of the State of the World’s Midwifery report, which is an updated evidence base and detailed analysis of the midwifery workforce across the globe.

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The data included in this report shows that achieving universal coverage of midwife-delivered interventions by 2035 could avert 67percent of maternal deaths, 64percent of the new-born deaths and 65percent of the stillbirths. This would save globally an estimated 4.3 million lives a year. 

In his statement to mark the day, the UNFPA, Representative to Lesotho Dr Marc Derveeuw has thanked midwives in Lesotho for putting their lives at risk in times of COVID-19 to provide live-saving services to pregnant mothers in times of highest needs, for helping to bring new life into the world, and for preventing maternal mortality and stillbirths.

“UNFPA collaborates with the government of Lesotho in safe delivery for everyone everywhere, at all times, irrespective of the circumstances. This includes working in challenging health emergencies and humanitarian situations, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“We strive towards zero preventable maternal deaths by the year 2030 in Lesotho and are confident that midwives, the front line heroes are joining us in our endeavour,” he also said.


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