Investing in midwives crucial to improving maternal health, stresses UN official

5 May 2008 – Paying tribute to the work of midwives in saving the lives of women around the world, the head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has called for greater investments to train these critical health workers and get them into the communities that need them.

“Every day, midwives are saving women’s lives by making delivery safe. Their essential care before, during and after delivery ensures that no woman dies giving life,” UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said in a message marking the International Day of the Midwife, observed on 5 May.

Noting an urgent need for 334,000 midwives worldwide, she said UNFPA and its partners are starting a new programme to promote midwifery. “Every minute another woman dies in childbirth. We can save these women by getting midwives in their communities,” she stressed.

Ms. Obaid pointed out that when properly trained, empowered and supported, midwives offer “the most cost-effective and high-quality path to maternal and newborn health.” They provide a range of vital services during pregnancy, childbirth and the post-natal period and offer reproductive health information and services, including family planning.

By investing in midwives, governments can achieve universal access to reproductive health, as well as improve maternal health – one of the targets world leaders pledged to achieve by 2015 as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“When women are healthy, families are healthy. And when families are healthy, the well-being of communities and nations also improves,” Ms. Obaid stated.

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