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International Day of the Midwife: Invest in midwives to save more lives — UNFPA


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Dr Natalia Kanem, the Executive Director, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), has stressed the need for increased investment in midwives to save more lives.

She made the call in a statement issued by the UNFPA Nigeria Media Consultant, Mrs Kori Habib, on Wednesday in Abuja to mark the 2021 International Day of the Midwife (IDM), with the theme “Follow the Data, Invest in Midwives.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that IDM is annually marked on May 5 around the globe to highlight the important roles nurses and midwives play in national development.

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It is also a day to highlight key issues affecting the health workforce. This year’s international day of the midwife focuses on rising spate of violence against women and girls.

Habib, therefore, quoted Kanem as saying “midwives deserve greater investment in their capabilities and workplaces that will empower them and fully acknowledge their skills and contributions. They deserve our respect and gratitude, but that is not enough.

“On the International Day of the Midwife, we honour the extraordinary contributions of midwives to humanity and highlight the mounting data and evidence for more investment in midwifery as an essential element of healthcare.

“The latest edition of the State of the World’s Midwifery report launched by UNFPA, the World Health Organisation and the International Confederation of Midwives affirms that if we increase the number of midwives and the quality of care they provide, we will save an estimated 4.3 million lives a year by 2035. 

“Universal coverage of midwife-delivered interventions by 2035 would avert 67 per cent of maternal deaths.”

Kanem, however, noted that such achievements depend on midwives gaining better education and training, along with comprehensive and supportive workplace regulation. 

The executive director said midwives must have greater roles in professional leadership and governance and scope “to use their unique experiences to drive advancements in health policies and service delivery.”

The UNFPA boss, who eulogised the efforts of midwives around the world toward saving the lives of women and babies and promoting the health and well-being of communities, added that they often work under extraordinary circumstances. 

She explained that they may walk miles to reach women in their own homes to help them to safely give birth, noting that they had faced increasing pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened inequalities in their workplaces, often short on protective gear.

She said “with less access to vaccines than other healthcare workers, midwives have put their own lives at risk serving others.

“Such dedication is an invaluable resource, yet too many health systems depend on it without commensurate backing.

“That will short-circuit the ambition to reach the goal of zero preventable maternal deaths by 2030.”

She, therefore, stressed the need for health systems everywhere around the globe to take note and take action, saying “investing in midwives is one of the surest ways to safeguard lives and protect the health and well-being of all.” (NAN)


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