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International Day of the Midwife 2018

An estimated 111 women and girls die from complications of pregnancy and delivery everyday, as Nigeria ranks one of the highest in maternal mortality amongst developing countries. With only 2% of global population, Nigeria constitutes 14% of global maternal deaths. This statistics persist because of the low rate of skilled birth attendance at delivery, maldistribution of midwifery workforce corresponding with needs, weak health infrastructure, lack of access to quality maternity care services, under-deployment of the available services due to financial constraints and physical access amongst others.

The annual global commemoration of the International Day of the Midwife is 5th May 2018 and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) has announced the theme for the 2018 edition to be; ‘Midwives leading the way with quality care’.

This year’s theme is significant in highlighting the fact that midwives do more than deliver babies. When trained and supported, midwives can help avert over two thirds of maternal and newborn deaths and disabilities.

Success in reducing maternal mortality in several countries where it was once highly prevalent has occurred as a result of increasing healthcare resources such as the number of hospitals and trained healthcare professionals and above all, facilitated immediate referral to delivery services. Where midwives are trained, mothers and their newborn receive respectful and well-resourced care that can create a lifetime of good health and wellbeing, for example in Bangladesh, decline in maternal mortality occurred when women have access to trained medical professionals during and after their pregnancy.

Support is being provided by UNFPA Nigeria for evidence base analysis of the present and future challenges to delivering effective coverage of midwifery services, and strengthening the midwifery education in line with standards. Also, UNFPA Nigeria has provided support in raising the visibility and profile for midwives; in-service training of midwives to scale their capacity on RMNCAH thematic areas and building the capacities of over 300 newly deployed midwives on emergency Obstetric care and Family Planning through training, and provision of service provision kits and job aids.

The International Day of Midwife (IDM), provides an opportunity to inform everyone with an interest in health and justice that midwives are crucial to reducing maternal and newborn sickness and death. During IDM, we need to celebrate the achievements of midwives and their contribution to improving health outcomes whilst motivating policymakers to implement change by lobbying for adequate midwifery resources.

UNFPA Nigeria and its partners will continue to work on cost effective interventions to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.