Nation celebrates dedicated midwives



MASERU – Investing in midwives leads to a world where every pregnancy is wanted and every childbirth is safe, with access to midwives being the single most important factor in stopping preventable maternal and newborn deaths. This is according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in recognition of International Midwifery Day on May 5. According to the UNFPA, midwives are essential service providers, who should be fully integrated in health-care systems.

UNFPA executive director, Dr Natalia Kanem, reaffirmed that

every year on this day, they celebrate midwives for their unwavering commitment to saving lives and ensuring the health and well-being of women and newborn babies. Dr Kanem said if every pregnant woman had access to a well-trained, caring midwife, they would be much closer to a world where every childbirth is safe. “Instead, many health systems continue to marginalise this mostly female workforce, and treat midwives poorly in terms of pay, working conditions and opportunities to cultivate skills,” she added.

This, along with a global shortage of 900 000 midwives, she said, reflects an assumption that they are not essential healthcare workers. She said in a world that sees a woman die every two minutes due to pregnancy or childbirth, they also take this moment to champion universal access to skilled midwives as one of the most important ways to curb preventable maternal and newborn deaths. A midwife at St Denis Clinic in the Leribe district, Tlaleng Motaba, said she values her work so much that her biggest fear is seeing a woman leaving the health facility with a box containing a lifeless newborn yet she had come with new clothes for the baby.

She said she prays every time she supports a woman during labour and the birthing process, that the lives of both the mother and the baby would be spared. International Midwifery Day is commemorated globally on May 5, to honour midwives for their big contribution towards the health of their nations and to increase awareness about the Midwives’ contribution towards their patients all over the world.

UNFPA’s theme this year is: Actioning Evidence: Leading the Way to Enhance Quality Midwifery Care Globally.  UNFPA says midwives are the main caregivers for women and their newborns during pregnancy, labour, childbirth and in the post-delivery period, therefore the organisation stands in solidarity with midwives for the life-saving work they do. According to Census 2016, Lesotho is on stage four; Very High Maternal Mortality Ratio, at 618 per 100 000 live births, based on the Classification by East and Southern Africa (ESA) countries stages of obstetric transition. 

To this end, UNFPA views access to midwives as the single most important factor in stopping the preventable maternal and newborn deaths. Since 2008, UNFPA has worked with partners, governments and policymakers to help build a competent, well-trained and well-supported midwifery workforce in low-resource settings.

“We focus on four key areas: strengthening competency-based midwifery training; developing strong regulatory mechanisms to ensure quality services; raising the voices of midwives by establishing and strengthening midwifery associations; and, advocating for increased investments in midwifery services,” UNFPA noted.

In Lesotho, UNFPA supports the government through the Ministry of Health in advancing the midwifery curriculum and strengthening midwifery services as a strategy of reducing maternal deaths.

They also support training of midwives, emergency obstetric and neonatal care.

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