Investing in midwives essential for reducing maternal and newborn deaths

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Selina Akter, second-year midwifery student, plays the role of a mother as students practice postnatal care at the Dinajpur nursing institute in Bangladesh. Photo: Nicolas Axelrod/Ruom for UNFPA

Trained midwives could help avert roughly two-thirds of global maternal and child deaths annually, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reports.

This Thursday is the International Day of the Midwife, and the UN agency is paying tribute to these critical health care providers.

UNFPA says that midwives sometimes work under very difficult circumstances, such as in hard to access communities, humanitarian emergencies and in conflict areas.

Dianne Penn reports.

Well-trained and supported midwives are uniquely positioned to provide compassionate, respectful and culturally sensitive care to women during pregnancy and childbirth, according to the head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Dr Babatunde Osotimehin added that their skills are equally important for newborns during the critical first month of life.

Although maternal mortality rates have declined by almost half in the past 25 years, approximately 300,000 women still die during pregnancy and childbirth, he stated.

Furthermore, three million newborns also do not survive their first four weeks of life.

Most of these deaths occur in developing nations or countries affected by crisis.

Dr Osotimehin said these deaths are largely preventable and two-thirds could be averted if trained midwives were deployed to these regions.

He added that significant global investment in midwives will be essential to achieve the "ambitious goals" of reducing maternal and newborn deaths.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'06"

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