|More than 1000 Midwives took to the streets in Durban|
The 2011 Midwifery Reports has projected an annual death rate of 358, 000 women who are either pregnant or giving birth, with some 2 million newborns dying within the first 24 hours of life and a record of 2.6 million stillbirths.
The State of the World’s Midwifery 2011: “Delivering Health, Saving Lives” published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on June 20, blames the loss of lives on “inadequate healthcare”.
June 20 marks the annual International Day of Midwife and this year, it holds under the theme “Delivering Health, Saving Lives”.
Released at the Midwifery Congress in Durban, South Africa on Monday, the report is described as being the first of its kind in the health sector, whereby global standards of care, especially as guidelines to governments, have been created.
Up to 90 percent of maternal deaths could be prevented if midwives are in place and can refer the most severe complications to specialised care, the report adds.
The Report provides new information and data gathered from 58 countries across all regions to help strengthen the practice of midwifery around the world. The role of skilled birth attendants, especially midwives, is widely acknowledged as being critical to addressing maternal and newborn death and disability.
|ICM President Bridget Lynch|
At the 29th Triennial Congress of the ICM in Durban, where 3000 midwives gathered on Monday, the ICM President, Bridget Lynch, talked about the huge strides taken by midwifery and singled out the work done by its partners, particularly UNFPA. She called it a ‘sibling relationship’ and thanked the Fund for everything it had done to develop the Joint ICM-UNFPA Programme.
“During this last Triennium the programme has been developed to deliver education, regulation and strengthened midwifery services in 23 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America & Caribbean,” she was quoted as saying by the ICM official website. Lynch adds that the report will be an important tool to improve access to midwifery care globally. The opening ceremony follows a 5-kilometre march along the Durban beachfront the previous day to draw attention to the lack of midwives in the world.
In 2010, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) stressed that the number of midwives must be expanded to achieve the Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 by 2015. “Up to 350, 000 more midwives are needed”, the ICM said during last year’s International Day of Midwife held under the theme “The World Needs Midwives Now More Than Ever!”
MDGs four, five and six targets a reduction in child mortality; improve maternal health; and combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases by 2015 respectively. And the ICM believes the achievement of these goals requires not only an increase in the numbers of midwives around the world, but requires also a global commitment to grow a strong, well educated midwifery workforce within functioning health service delivery systems.
The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2008 states: “The high risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth continues unabated in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Little progress has been made in saving mothers’ lives. Over 60 percent of women in these areas of the world still do not have skilled care during childbirth.”
This report notes better progress for all of the MDG goals, apart from MDG5, yet all the goals are linked: until poverty and hunger are reduced, until diseases such as HIV and malaria are controlled, until there is more equality between men and women, until every child completes primary education, until all women have access to reproductive healthcare - then mothers and babies will continue to die.
Midwives are key healthcare providers in achieving MDG 5, a clear message coming from the WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank: the four UN agencies that have recently united to pledge increased support to countries with the highest maternal mortality rates.
They identified mortality in pregnancy and childbirth as the “highest health inequity in the world with over 99 percent of deaths occurring in the developing world”. They committed to work with governments and civil society organizations to address the “urgent need for skilled health workers, particularly midwives”.
Midwives provide skilled newborn care to achieve MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality5
Every year in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia more than 1 million infants die within their first 24 hours of life due to lack of adequate health services, including midwifery care. The midwives of the world understand that every childbearing woman deserves to give birth within a safe and supported environment for herself and her baby. Skilled midwifery care includes emergency care for both mothers and their newborns.
Last year ICM said midwives are essential to achieve MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases. Thousands of pregnant women and hundreds of thousands of newborns die each year due to preventable disease.
|Midwives march at the 29th Triennial Congress of the ICM in Durban|
“Throughout sub-Saharan Africa governments have recognized the primary role of midwives in reducing these devastating deaths. As essential frontline workers, midwives provide vaccines to newborns and children; they identify, counsel and treat pregnant women with HIV and AIDS, thus preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV; they also provide anti-malarial drugs and bed nets to vulnerable pregnant women and their children, saving lives and promoting health,” the ICM President Bridget Lynch said.
“The sense of urgency to achieve MDGs 4, 5 and 6 in the next six years is increasing daily. The ICM and the midwives of the world are committed to working with global partners to achieve these goals.”
The Confederation, which began in 1919, as a group of European midwives, centred in Antwerp, Belgium, established the first beginnings of what was to become the ICM and has now has grown to 91 member associations with 250,000 midwives in over 80 countries.
- Author: Modou S. Joof, News Editor - The Voice
- Pics By ICM