UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, called for the professionalization of the midwifery training by increasing investments in their education, training, and deployment to underserved areas where majority of maternal deaths occur.
UNFPA made the call as the country joined the world in observing the International Day of the Midwife, which highlights the role of midwives in addressing maternal mortality and morbidity particularly in developing countries.
In the Philippines, 11 mothers die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth complications and midwives are crucial to avert these deaths especially in rural and geographically isolated areas where they are most needed.
There are about 17,000 midwives in the public health sector providing services in 42,000 barangays. The Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines said the ideal ratio of midwives to population is one midwife per 4,000 population.
“In hard-to-reach areas, midwives provide a valuable role in the safe delivery of babies and prevention of maternal deaths. But no matter how many birthing facilities there are in an area, they will remain just structures if we do not have trained midwives to attend to pregnant women and their newborns,” said UNFPA Representative Ugochi Daniels.
She added that in countries that have achieved dramatic improvements in prevention of maternal deaths, professionally trained midwives have been a key to success.
In New York, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin called midwives the “unsung heroes of maternal and newborn health” as he pushed for increased investment to address the current global shortage of some 350,000 professional midwives.
“I commend the important work of midwives. Midwives deliver – and not only babies. They save lives and promote good health in societies as a whole. They are an essential workforce in an effective healthcare system,” he said. -30- Arlene Calaguian, Information and Communication Officer United Nations Population Fund