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‘Midwives can reduce maternal deaths by two thirds’

Pascalinah Kabi

THE United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) says that well-trained midwives could help reduce the world-wide maternal and newborn deaths by two thirds.

The UNFPA said this in light of the yesterday International Midwifery Day which is celebrated annually on 5 May to recognise and honour midwives for their contribution towards the good health of their nations.

Lesotho’s latest Demographic and Health Survey put the country’s maternal mortality ratio at 1024 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births for the seven-period leading up to the 2014 survey.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) defines maternal mortality or pregnancy-related death as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the cause of death”.

Lesotho’s child mortality rate is 85 deaths per 1000 live births and the infant mortality rate is 59 deaths per 1000 live births. This means that one in 12 children in Lesotho dies before his or her fifth birthday.

The UNFPA said that midwives were significant role players in averting increasing number of maternal and newborn deaths across the world.

It said this year’s theme – ‘Midwives leading the way with quality care’ – resonated well with its view that midwives were the main caregivers for women and their newborns during pregnancy, labour, 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,” the UNFPA said in a statement.

The UN agency also said it was working at global, regional and national level to scale up midwifery services by supporting training efforts and providing supplies and materials to midwifery institutions.

The agency said the midwives improve access to family planning and that they can provide more than 85 percent of all sexual and reproductive health services as well as assist in preventing two thirds of maternal and new born deaths worldwide.

“It is on this basis that in Lesotho, the UNFPA supports the Ministry of Health in efforts to increase access to quality youth-friendly integrated sexual and reproductive health services and rights, focusing on, among others, the reduction of maternal mortality which is very high at 1024/100 000 live births,” part of the UNFPA statement reads.

The first International Day of the Midwife (IDM) was celebrated on 5 May 1991 under the theme ‘Towards safe birth for all by the year 2000’.

The day is celebrated using the overarching theme ‘The World Needs Midwives Today More Than Ever’ as part of an ongoing campaign to highlight the need to prevent maternal deaths.


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