As millions celebrate the International Day of the Midwife, the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA) joins the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) to recognize the contributions of midwives and to call for investments to fill the gaps in countries where women give birth alone or without a skilled health worker at their side.
“Midwives are on the frontlines, saving the lives of women and newborns every day,” said White Ribbon Alliance President Theresa Shaver. “Whether in Dar es Salaam or Washington, DC, midwives have the knowledge and skills to guide a woman through a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth.”
"This year marks a significant recognition of the absolute necessity to grow a strong global midwifery workforce" said ICM President. Bridget Lynch. "Strengthening midwifery must be a priority for all governments if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The world needs midwives now more than ever!”
Every minute a woman dies due to the complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Every year 1.5 million newborns die within the first 24 hours of life. Almost always their lives could have been saved if they were cared for by a midwife supported with essential medications and equipment and linkages to emergency care, should that become necessary. Yet, in sub-Saharan Africa where there are the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, there is the lowest rate of births attended by skilled health workers.
“We see progress when investments are made to shore up failing health systems,” said Shaver. “No less than a doubling of assistance for maternal, newborn and child health is needed to fill the global gap of skilled health workers.”
In January, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised maternal and child health will be a "top priority" at the G8 Summit in June. Despite encouraging news of a significant drop in maternal deaths, only 23 of 181 countries surveyed are on track to achieve targets to reduce maternal mortality by 2015.
The White Ribbon Alliance is launching a “Health Workers Are Superheroes” campaign to shine a spotlight on the millions of midwives, nurses and doctors, who against all odds and with great personal sacrifice, are saving the lives of women and newborns.
With individual and organizational members in 148 countries and affiliated National Alliances in 15 – Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia – WRA is a global grassroots movement uniting people from all walks of life to advocate for changes and investments to ensure every woman’s access to quality health care before, during and after childbirth. Go to www.whiteribbonalliance.org