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Back 31 March 2015

“We need midwives, we need midwives, we need midwives”

Geneva February 2015

These were the words of Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO, speaking at a recent ‘Geneva Dialogue’ on midwifery. “No woman in this world should die giving birth,” added Chan. “Giving birth should be a precious and pleasant experience…Failure to provide high quality maternal care is a political liability”. She also emphasized midwives’ role in providing respectful and compassionate care.

ICM was represented at the meeting by President Frances Day-Stirk who said “more and better quality midwifery services can help countries reach universal health coverage because midwives are where women are – and because midwives can cover 87% of essential Reproductive Maternal and Newborn Health needs.”

The event aimed to inform the new United Nations Secretary-General’s ‘Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health’ in the run up to the new Sustainable Development Goals which launch in September.

Opening the event, Swedish Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Jan Knutsson, launched a new initiative, Midwives4all

“Health is not a cost, it is an investment, and health care workers are a part of that” said Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, co-hosting the occasion.

Zimbabwean Ambassador Encyla Tina Chishiba Sinjela remarked that many African countries are struggling to recruit and retain midwives; this prevents women from reaching quality midwifery care in many rural areas.

"The world does not have enough midwives"

The Government of Senegal is pioneering an innovative response to this problem. Currently, half of the country’s  health professionals are in the capital Dakar and caring for less than a quarter of its citizens, explained Senegalese Ambassador Bassirou Sene. The new ‘nomadic midwifery strategy’ aims to attract and retain midwives at community level where they are most needed.

Morocco’s Ambassador Mohamed Auajjar expressed his concern about the budget cuts (imposed for deficit reduction) which have hit health and education in his country, where there are still only four midwives per thousand births.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador Taonga Mushayavanhu, declared that midwifery training is essential, together with decent working condition which will encourage midwives to stay in post.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin of UNFPA concluded that midwives are essential in achieving a more equitable world for women and girls – and yet still “the world does not have enough midwives.”

The event was hosted by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); World Health Organization (WHO); the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), along with eight permanent missions to the UN Canada, France, Nepal, Morocco, Senegal, Sweden, Zambia and Zimbabwe. See also http://www.who.int/hrh/nursing_midwifery/world_have_enough_midwives/en/  

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