Professor Rita Borg Xuereb, represented the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) at the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland (RCSI), 39th Annual international Nursing and Midwifery Research and Education Conference, 26-27 February, 2020. The Conference title was ‘2020 WHO International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife’
The impact midwives have, is not just on pregnancy outcomes, as is often understood, but extends from preconception, antenatal, intranatal and postnatal, to new-born and infant care, breastfeeding, early child development and family planning amongst other aspects of adolescents’, women’s and infants’ health. The profession is now in the forefront of global attention, an excellent opportunity for the world to make a concerted effort for more midwives globally, bearing in mind that although maternal mortality rates have fallen by 45% in the past 2 decades, approximately, 830 women and 7,000 babies still die every day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth (WHO 2019). This is considered as the highest inequity in the world.
Compelling evidence highlight that when midwives are educated to international standards (ICM, 2019) and within an appropriately operating health system, midwives can provide 87% of the care essential for women and newborns (SoWMy, 2014) and according to WHO (2019) if midwifery includes the provision of family planning, it could prevent more than 80% of all maternal, neonatal and stillbirth deaths. Midwives also have the potential to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by 67% (SoWMy report 2014). Additionally, Homer et al, (2014), said that a 25% increase of competent midwives in developing countries would result in a 50% reduction in maternal deaths.
The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve the universal health coverage by 2030, (WHO 2020). A recent joint report by ICM, WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF (WHO, 2019) proposed three strategic priorities: women and newborns should be cared for by a midwife, educated and trained to international standards; midwives leadership to be positioned in high-level national policy and coordination and alignment between midwifery stakeholders at country, regional and global levels. A seven-step action plan will be implemented with the aim of reaching the universal health coverage by 2030.
Prof. Borg Xuereb emphasised that the momentum is here, ICM celebrates the work of midwives globally, a drive to celebrate life, celebrate the human to human relationships, the touch of a midwife during pregnancy, during birth, the miracle of life, highlight how midwives make a difference in saving human’s lives and to ensure a world where every childbearing woman has the right to access a competent midwife for her care.
- Homer et al (2014) The projected effect of scaling midwifery. The Lancet 384: 9948, 1146-1157
- UNFPA (2014), The State of the World’s Midwifery report. A Universal pathway. A woman’s right to Health, SoWMy, 2014. UNFPA, ICM, WHO
- World Health Organisation (2019) Framework for Action: Strengthening quality midwifery education for Universal health Coverage, 2030. ICM, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO.
- World Health Organisation (2020) Newsroom