May 5th is the internationally recognized day for highlighting the work of midwives. Midwives are the single most important cadre for preventing maternal and neonatal deaths and stillbirths, but the number of midwives falls far short of the need. In fact, the 2014 State of the World’s Midwifery report found that there is a global shortage of 3.5 million health workers, including 350,000 midwives, which puts millions of women and newborns at risk of death and disability.
Birth is the time when the risk of death is greatest for both babies and mothers. Globally, more than 1 million babies die during the first day of life, an additional 1.3 million stillbirths occur, and most of the 303,000 maternal deaths occur during childbirth. Nearly all of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Yet most of these deaths could be averted with proven and cost-effective solutions. Access to quality universal health coverage remains a challenge for the vast majority of families around the world. In low-resource settings, midwives provide the majority of immediate care to newborns born in facilities, often despite a lack of support or training for newborn care.
Here are some of the things you can do to celebrate and recognize midwives:
- Submit a blog post
Do you know a midwife who is working to make a difference for the world’s mothers and babies? Help tell her story! We encourage you to submit stories about midwives you know to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Participate at The Virtual International Day of the Midwife
- Access IDM Resources.