UNITED NATIONS–The UN population agency on Friday marked the International Day of the Midwife by honoring midwives as family “partners for life”.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) urged governments and development partners to expand midwifery programs and promote an environment where midwives can effectively serve the needs of women and their families.
“Midwives save lives, support and promote healthy families, and empower women and couples to choose whether, when and how often to have children,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the UNFPA on the occasion of International Day, which falls on May 5.
“They also help avert sexually transmitted infections and prevent disabilities like obstetric fistula, mother-to-child transmission of HIV and female genital mutilation,” he said.
Each year, more than 300,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth. The United Nations estimates that some 3 million babies do not survive the first month of life, and another 2.5 million are stillborn.
“Most of them could have been saved by the care of well-trained midwives within the framework of strong health systems,” Osotimehin said.
This year’s theme for the Day, “Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life!”, underscores the important roles that these women and girls have in preventing maternal and newborn deaths and empowering women to make informed, healthy choices.
Midwives –and people with midwifery skills –are the main caregivers for women and their newborns during pregnancy, labor, childbirth and in the post-delivery period.
Skilled midwives are the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of women and infants every year.