Midwives praised for invaluable contribution

Gibson Mhaka
THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has hailed  midwives for their invaluable contribution to health care, particularly in delivering Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, New-born and Adolescent Health (SRMNAH) care services to millions of people in Zimbabwe and worldwide.

In a statement released in commemorating the International Day of the Midwife, UNFPA said midwives were needed not only for delivery and new-born health care but for other sexual and reproductive health interventions such as contraceptive services, management of sexually transmitted infections, screening for cancers of the reproductive health and provision of adolescent sexual and other reproductive health services.

The International Day of the Midwife (May 5), celebrates the life-saving work of the world’s midwives who are the primary caregivers for millions of women and newborns before, during and after childbirth, and also offer women and girls essential counseling and education on reproductive health.

“They are public heroes, ensuring that a woman plans her family, has a healthy pregnancy, safe childbirth and essential post-natal care for herself and the baby.

pregnant women

“Because of their role in pre-pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery care including management of complications of pregnancies they significantly contribute to the reduction in maternal mortality.

“Provision of family planning services by midwives also helps in averting maternal deaths.

“Family planning empowers women by enabling them to plan the size and timing of pregnancies, thus enabling them to avoid unintended pregnancy and also averting unsafe abortions. Studies have shown that family planning reduces up to 40 percent of maternal deaths,” the statement reads in part.

According to, UNFPA well trained and regulated midwives in an enabling environment can deliver about 90 percent of essential SRMNAH interventions and avert about two thirds of all maternal and new-born deaths.

“Skilled care before, during and after childbirth saves the lives of women and new-born.”
UNFPA said it works together with the Government and other partners to help develop a well- trained, competent midwifery workforce.

As part of human resources for health, UNFPA promotes midwifery education, training, service provision and supports advocating for stronger workplace policies.

“UNFPA has supported the creation of an enabling environment for Midwives to offer quality sexual, reproductive, maternal, new-born and adolescent health care, work with professional legislation bodies such as the Nurses Council of Zimbabwe which also oversees midwifery to ensure that regulatory systems are in place, the Zimbabwe Confederation of Midwives to strengthen their association systems and structures to raise voices of the midwives and strengthening institutional readiness and capacity of health care facilities to provide quality midwifery services by supporting with equipment and reproductive health commodities, including lifesaving medicines and contraceptives,” the statement further reads.

According to UNPFA over 4 000 midwives have been trained since 2013 and it (UNPFA) has contributed in various ways by supporting the education, practice and regulatory systems and structures.

“The schools of Midwifery were supported with training material that included birthing and newborn mannequins, training logbooks, development of an e-learning platform and capacity building of the educators in Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC), Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV)”.

Speaking at the 5th Global Midwifery Symposium recently held in Cape Town, South Africa, UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Communications Adviser Daisy Diamante Leoncio also hailed midwives saying there was solid evidence that they play an important role in stopping preventable maternal and newborn deaths.

Officials from UNFPA, World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), and over 20 global partners from civil society, academia, the private sector, professional bodies, and donors attended the symposium which highlighted the critical role midwives play in ending preventable maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths, and leading the way in improving quality maternal and newborn care worldwide.

“Well-trained and supported midwives have the potential to provide 90 percent of all essential sexual, reproductive, maternal, and newborn health services, contributing to 4,3 million lives saved annually by 2035.

“Midwives also improve women’s birthing experiences and reduce healthcare costs. However, midwives represent only 10 percent of the global health workforce, with a current shortage of 900 000 midwives. Additionally, these health providers, mostly women, are often underpaid and undervalued,” said Leoncio.

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