For some years now, the Campaign and many other groups working for safe abortion and safe motherhood – not to mention the World Health Organization – have been supporting the training of midwives to provide safe abortions at primary and community level with abortion pills and vacuum aspiration methods. This call has assumed that there are enough midwives to take on this task. On 5 May 2021, however, UN Info, a United Nations news outlet, published a report saying that the world is facing a shortage of some 900,000 midwives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made matters even worse, they say, as many midwives have been redeployed to help fill critical gaps in other health services. According to the Report on the State of Midwifery in the World in 2021, achieving universal coverage of midwifery care by 2035 would prevent about two-thirds of maternal deaths, newborn deaths and stillbirths, saving 4.3 million lives per year.
UNFPA Fund Executive Director Natalia Kanem highlighted the “enormous impact” of midwives on women and their families:
“A competent and well-trained midwife can have a huge impact on women of childbearing age and their families – an impact often passed down from generation to generation. At UNFPA, we have spent over a decade strengthening education, improving working conditions and supporting leadership roles for the midwifery profession. We have seen that these efforts are working.”
The report calls on governments to provide a supportive working environment for midwives, free from gender-related stigma, violence and discrimination. It also calls for more investment in midwifery education and training, midwifery-led service delivery, and midwifery leadership and governance.
The appointment of experienced midwives as leaders at the national level would be an important lever for capacity building, the report said.
Midwives not only attend births, they also provide antenatal and postnatal care as well as a range of sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, detection and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. and adolescent sexual and reproductive health services, while ensuring respectful care and upholding women’s rights.
And this is before anyone even mentions them having a central role in safe abortion care, which is in fact once of the main competencies of a midwife.
The President of the International Confederation of Midwives, Franka Cadée, called on governments and policy makers to act on the report’s recommendations. “As autonomous primary care providers, midwives are continually neglected and ignored,” she said. “It is time for governments to recognise the evidence of the impact of midwifery care on promoting and saving lives, and for taking action to act on the recommendations of the report on the midwifery profession in the world. ”
SOURCE: News.UN.org, 5 May 2021 + PHOTO by Patrick Brown, UNICEF in Nepal. In: Revue de presse internationale, MFPF Centre de doc du Planning, 12 mai 2021. (Les deux en français)