The role of midwives is essential to quality care before, during and after pregnancy.

Photo of the Week: Midwives at the Center

Photo: Save the Children 

Midwife Hawa Yusuf takes the blood pressure of Hodan, who is 9 months pregnant and lives in an IDP camp next to the Xingod Health Centre in the Karkaar region of Puntland, Somalia. This health centre provides cost-free maternal and child health services, including emergency obstetric and neonatal care.

Through a multi-origanizational project, thirty health facilities, nine maternal health centres and one hospital, in Karkar, are supported that in total target 200,000 beneficiaries. Training village health workers in thirty remote settlements and equipping them with basic health kits enable them to screen, treat and refer young children through integrated case management at community level.

"Midwives and others with midwifery skills are the single most important cadre for preventing maternal, neonatal deaths and stillbirths."

Health workers are the backbone of a health care system. More specifically, midwives and midwifery personnel play an essential role in reducing mortality, morbidity and stillbirths by providing essential care to women and babies during the antenatal, childbirth, and postnatal period. There is a global recognition that a global shortage of midwives is one of the factors inhibiting the reduction of newborn deaths in high-burden settings.

The 2011 State of the World’s Midwifery report stated that 38 countries face a critical shortage of midwives. While scaling up the number of educated, equipped and supported midwives is vital, several upcoming reports will push harder for a more comprehensive approach to reducing newborn and maternal deaths with midwives.

Also, the launch of the Every Newborn action plan at the Partners Forum in June in Johannesburg will offer countries a roadmap for change that sharpens existing national health sector plans to improve care at the time of birth with the help of midwives and other health workers. It as well builds on the recommendations and furthers the objectives of A Promise Renewed for Child Survival, the UN Commission on Life-saving Commodities as well as the goals and targets set during the Family Planning 2020 summit. 

We hope you’ll join the Healthy Newborn Network, the International Confederation of Midwives and Save the Children in honoring a champion midwife for the 2014 International Midwife Award by nominating one by the March 17th deadline. Please visit our special section to find out about eligibility and the nomination process. Two deserving winners will attend the ICM Congress in Prague to receive their award and be honored for their commitment to helping women and babies during the most critical time of life, the time of birth. 

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