Fact: Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. This accounts to 289,000 women per year.
Fact: Every year 3 million infants die in the first month of life. Among those, nearly 3/4 die in their first week, and 1/3 die on their day of birth.
Fact: Midwives that are educated and regulated to international standards can provide 87% of the essential care needed for women and newborns.
Fact: Today, only 22% of countries have potentially enough adequately educated midwives to meet the basic needs of the world’s women and newborns.
Yesterday was the International Day of the Midwife. The theme for this year is “Midwives: for a better tomorrow.”
It reminds us of the critical role of midwives in creating a brighter future for mothers, babies, and families. Continued progress and sustainable development will not be a reality unless mothers and babies survive and thrive. Investment in midwives is fundamental in accelerating progress toward these goals. -Frances Ganges, Chief Executive International Confederation of Midwives
We are only months away from the Millenium Development Goals’ (MDG’s) targets coming to close and whilst we absolutely must celebrate the success and enormous achievements that have been made, the fact remains that the child mortality rate has only halved, so failing to achieve the goal of a 60% reduction; and instead of the 75% goal, the maternal mortality rate has decreased by only 45% .
The end of this year marks the end of the MDG’s and the start of the SDG’s – Sustainable Development Goals. In March 2015, a set of 17 provisional SDG’s with indicators was proposed. SDG 3 is “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Associated with this SDG are 13 proposed targets, three of which pertain directly to maternal and newborn health; one to health care accessibility and one to health care availability.
- Target 3.1 – By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.
- Target 3.2 – By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age.
- Target 3.7 – By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health in to national strategies and programmes.
- Target 3.8 – Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
- Target 3.c – Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.
These targets are clearly needed. However, I strongly argue the indicators associated with several of these targets are vague and lacking in the specificity required to drive action forward. For example, one of the indicators for target 3.1 is simply listed as “Skilled birth attendance” without any reference to the kind of skilled birth attendance or a benchmark for monitoring success. Failure to set an indicator for the proportion of women having care from a skilled and qualified midwife is missing a great opportunity. There is clearly more work to be done if the SDG’s are going to be the driving force that they could be, to continue to build on recent strides forward in maternal and newborn health.
I believe that irrespective of the SDG’s, there has never before been more momentum to keep driving forward the message that midwives matter and that investing in a high quality midwifery workforce is what’s required to ensure a better tomorrow for mothers and their newborns around the world.
Want to learn more? Follow #IDM15 & @world_midwives
Cover Photo Credit: H4+ Partnership, Flickr Creative Commons