International Day of the Midwife

AMREF International Day of the Midwife Statement

Since its founding in 1957, AMREF has been devoted to addressing the health needs of the marginalised.  Although global progress continues to be made towards reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent by 2015, progress in sub-Saharan Africa remains slow and least among rural communities with the lowest access to health care, while some countries Maternal Mortality Rates have increased. In 2010, about 162 000 women died in this region during pregnancy and childbirth, representing 56 per cent of the global total. In other words five out of every 1000 mothers continue to die of pregnancy-related causes while another 150 develop serious long term pregnancy-related complications. Over 80 per cent of these deaths are as a result of complications that could be taken care of in facilities with basic emergency obstetric care services.

This calls into sharp focus this year’s theme ‘The World Needs Midwives Now More than Ever’. The World’s Midwifery (SOWMy) Report (2011) found that almost two thirds of maternal and newborn deaths could be averted and roughly about 3.6million lives saved by 2015. These lives can only be saved if all women delivered with a competent well equipped midwife in a functional facility.

AMREF strongly believes that midwives are key in addressing maternal mortality. That is why AMREF’s Stand Up for African Mothers campaign aims at training 15,000 midwives across 13 countries in Africa by 2015.  One midwife can look after 500 mothers every year and safely deliver 100 babies.

AMREF’s call as we mark the International Day of the Midwife is:

To African governments:

  1. Accelerate implementation of Human Resources for Health (HRH) strategies to increase the number of midwives trained and upgraded in the country;
  2. Fast track the attainment of MDG 5 in all countries where targets have not been achieved;
  3. Deliver on commitments to increase the health budget to reach the 15% target of Abuja Declaration;
  4. To adopt innovative mechanisms to support the training, recruitment, deployment and retention of midwives to ensure adequate production and distribution across rural and remote areas.
  5. To ensure mechanisms of access to the UN Commission’s 13 lifesaving commodities for women and children, including long term family planning methods and other commodities for reproductive health, are accessible to midwives to provide appropriate quality health services. 

To development partners:

  1. To adopt and support innovative mechanisms for training, recruitment, deployment and retention of midwives in Africa.
  2. To support the focus on Human Resources for Health within the post MDG priority setting processes, with a focus on midwives.
  3. Treat MDG 5 as ‘unfinished business” and continue investment in midwifery training for improved maternal and child health.

AMREF is committed to training midwives to assist women in accessing health services including family planning, and will continue sensitising governments, opinion leaders,  policy makers and other key stakeholders on the critical issue of maternal deaths so that they can take direct, strong and decisive actions and work towards long term solutions.

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162,000 mothers die every year due to a lack of simple medical care

950,000 African children are left motherless each year

40% of African women do not receive prenatal care, and more than half of all deliveries take place at home without medical assistance

Esther Madudu government-employed midwife and AMREF’s nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize 2015

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