‘Ensuring that every woman and her newborn have access to quality midwifery services demands that we take bold steps to build on what we have achieved so far across communities, countries, regions and the world.
Our responsibility is clear: we must safeguard each woman and child so they may live to their full potential. The results will reverberate far beyond the lives of those directly affected, fostering a better world for all.’
Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in The State of the World’s Midwifery 2011
But today, in some countries, midwives are still poorly understood. In one of its Bulletins published in 2013, the World Health Organization stated:
“Midwifery, a practice so ancient that it features in early Egyptian and Roman scrolls, is seeing a long awaited increase in global attention. Decades of neglect of the role of midwives, either because of the over-medicalization of pregnancy care or a lack of resources, has left a legacy of high rates of maternal and newborn mortality in developing countries.
While these rates have fallen in recent years, more progress must be made in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where fewer than 50% of all births are assisted by a skilled birth attendant.
Now, grassroots, government and international initiatives are coming together to put midwives at centre stage in reproductive health programmes in countries like Ethiopia and Somalia. But for these efforts to succeed, investment in midwifery must be sustainable, covering more than just the initial training.”
“Midwives are a pillar of reproductive health programmes and it is crucial to understand their role in the health system and support them…You don’t go into midwifery if you don’t want to help other women. There is an element of love here. We are clinicians, but this is about loving and caring for other women, their babies and their families at a very special time in their lives.” Frances McConville, midwifery expert at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva,
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