I am just back from spending over two weeks in Ethiopia. At every health clinic and hospital I visited in both rural and urban areas I had the great privilege of chatting with new and seasoned midwives about their life-saving work. Midwives play a pivotal role in maternal and newborn health in Ethiopia and around the world. Why? Because midwives have been trained to save lives. In low-resource settings a midwife’s care and attention can mean the difference between a woman dying from sepsis and having a routine healthy delivery.
Did you know that maternal mortality cannot be reduced without midwives? Did you know each year we lose close to 300,000 women and 3 million infants? Midwives could prevent most of those deaths. And finally, did you also know that the survival of every newborn depends on quality care at birth?
In Ethiopia, for example, the Ministry of Health is scaling efforts to train more midwives to shoulder the amount of women who are strongly encouraged to give birth in a health facility. The World Health Organization recommends that there should be one midwife per every 5,000 people in a given country. According to the International Confederation of Midwives’ 2012 State of the World’s Midwives report, there is one midwife for every 18,000 people in Ethiopia. That number, of course, is far too high and is a statistic the government is committed to lowering. Now in Ethiopia you will find midwifery schools throughout the country and leading NGOs like Jhpiego and AMREF are committed to helping to improve quality care and midwife training.
Today is International Day of the Midwife and the global health community is celebrating with both in-person and online events.
How can you take part?
All day, there will be Twitter chats celebrating midwives. You can join by following the hashtags: #midwives and #IDM2014. You can also share information across your social stream by downloading the International Confederation of Midwives’ social media pack. There are tweets and Facebook posts as well as icons, badges, and photos you can use to spread the word.
Fantastic Resources to Share
- Social documentary photographer, Paolo Patruno, worked with AMREF Canada to document the work of their midwifery program in Jinka, Ethiopia. See his entire collection and share throughout your networks.
- Our partner Jhpiego published a wonderful piece on Medium about how one hospital lowered maternal and newborn deaths through midwives.
We’ll be joining the discussion all day eastern time. We hope you join us to celebrate and rally support for midwives around the world.
UN Photo/Tobin Jones