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UNFPA: More Midwives Would Increase Healthier Pregnancies, Births
Public health experts and midwives gathered in Tunisia on Tuesday for
the first International Forum on Midwifery in the Community, urging
governments to promote midwifery as a means to decrease maternal and
infant death rates. Members from the International Confederation of
Midwives (ICM), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World
Health Organization (WHO), and other organizations from 20 countries
called on governments to invest in training and supporting midwives in
order to ensure that every woman has access to a skilled care provider
during childbirth, something the UNFPA identifies as a "woman's basic
human right." According to the 2005 WHO World Health Report, an
estimated 334,000 additional midwives are required to reduce the number
of maternal and infant deaths and disabilities during childbirth, the
UNFPA cites in its release.
The UNFPA reports that, after an initial investment in midwifery
programs, several countries including Costa Rica, Egypt, Malaysia, South
Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Tunisia have seen an improvement in the
health and well-being of new mothers and babies. Worldwide, WHO found in
2005 that approximately 530,000 women die from preventable pregnancy-
and childbirth-related causes, and that seven million infants die within
four weeks of childbirth due to preventable causes, Medical News Today
Kathy Herschderfer, the Secretary General of ICM, told the UNFPA,
"Midwives form the bridge between communities and facilities. They
transcend the levels of care within health systems, and are essential to
the continuum of care during the childbearing cycle."
UNFPA release 12/12/2006; Associated Press of Pakistan 12/13/2006; UN
release 12/12/2006; Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report
12/14/2006; Medical News Today 4/8/2005