A total investment in midwives by 2035 would prevent about two-thirds of maternal, newborn and stillbirth deaths, saving 4.3 million lives per year.

New York, May 5, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Millions of women’s and newborn lives are lost, and millions more suffer from health problems or injuries, as the needs of pregnant women and the skills of midwives are neither recognized nor prioritized.

The world is currently facing a shortage of 900,000 midwives, which represents one third of the global midwifery workforce. The COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated these problems, with the health needs of women and newborns eclipsed, midwifery services disrupted and midwives deployed to other health services. health.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the The State of the World’s Midwives in 2021 report by UNFPA (United Nations Agency for Sexual and Reproductive Health), WHO (World Health Organization), the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and partners, which assesses the staff of midwives and associated health resources in 194 countries.

The acute shortage of midwives is causing a terrible global toll in the form of preventable deaths. An analysis carried out for this report, published in the Lancet last December, showed that fully resourced midwifery care by 2035 could prevent 67% of maternal deaths, 64% of newborn deaths and 65% of stillbirths. It could save around 4.3 million lives per year.

Despite the alarms triggered in the last State of the World’s Midwives 2014 Report, which also provided a roadmap on how to address this deficit, progress over the past eight years has been too slow. Analysis of this year’s report shows that at the current rate of progress, the situation will have improved only slightly by 2030.

Gender inequality is an unrecognized driver of this massive shortage. The continued lack of resources for midwifery staff is a symptom of health systems not prioritizing the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls and not recognizing the role of midwives – including most are women – to meet these needs. Women represent 93% of midwives and 89% of nurses.

Midwives don’t just attend births. They also provide antenatal and postnatal care and a range of sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, detection and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents, while ensuring respectful care and upholding women’s rights. As the number of midwives increases and they are able to provide care in an enabling environment, women’s and newborn health improves overall, which benefits all. the society.

For midwives to reach their lifesaving and life-changing potential, greater investment is needed in their education and training, midwifery-led service delivery, and midwifery leadership. Governments must prioritize funding and support for midwives and take concrete steps to include midwives in health policy setting.

Quotes from partners:

Dr Franka Cadée, President of the International Confederation of Midwives:

“As autonomous primary care providers, midwives are continually neglected and ignored. It is time for governments to recognize the evidence on the life-saving impact of midwifery care and take action to act on the recommendations of the SoWMy report. The ICM is committed to leveraging the strength of our global midwifery community to advance these powerful findings and inspire change at the country level. However, this work is not possible without the commitment of decision makers and those who have the resources to invest in midwives and the quality care they provide to women who give birth. “

Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA:

“The State of the World’s Midwives report sounds the alarm: Currently, the world urgently needs 1.1 million additional essential health workers to provide sexual, reproductive and maternal health care , neonatal and adolescent, and 80% of these missing essential health workers are midwives. A competent and well-trained midwife can have a huge impact on pregnant women and their families – an impact often passed down from generation to generation. At UNFPA, we have spent more than a decade strengthening education, improving working conditions, and supporting midwifery leadership roles. We have seen that these efforts work, but they require a larger investment. “

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO:

“Midwives play a critical role in reducing the risk of childbirth for women around the world, but many of them have themselves been at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to learn the lessons that the pandemic teaches us, by implementing policies and making investments that provide better support and protection for midwives and other health workers. This report provides the data and evidence to support WHO’s long-standing call to strengthen the midwifery workforce, which will deliver a triple dividend in contributing to better health, equality gender and inclusive economic growth. “

Notes to Editors:

The launch of The State of the World’s Midwifery 2021 report includes policy recommendations to improve sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and adolescent health service delivery, as well as midwifery leadership and governance. women. These policy recommendations will be the subject of a meeting of health ministers on May 18 and dialogue at the 74th World Health Assembly (May 24), where WHO Member States are expected to adopt the Guidance. Global Evidence-Based Strategies for Nursing and Midwifery 2021. -2025 with a resolution on nursing and midwifery.

About UNFPA:

UNFPA is the United Nations agency for sexual and reproductive health. UNFPA’s mission is to create a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, quality maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.

CONTACT: Eddie Wright UNFPA +1 917 831 2074 ewright@unfpa.org

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