October 15, 2014 - Today is International Day of Rural Women, established by the United Nations to bring awareness to the critical contribution rural women make to improving living conditions worldwide. For rural women, health issues such as pregnancy complications are significantly compounded by limited availability of knowledgeable medical staff. Two new global reports confirm the vital role midwives can play in dramatically reducing maternal and newborn death.
Urgent need to improve accessibility of midwifery services
Despite a steady drop in maternal and newborn deaths since 1990, hundreds of thousands of women and newborns continue to die each year during pregnancy and childbirth, according to a new report from the United Nations Population Fund. The State of World’s Midwifery 2014 finds that an estimated 289,000 women and about 3 million newborn babies died in 2013 alone and the vast majority lost their lives due to complications and illnesses which could have been prevented with proper antenatal care and the presence of a skilled midwife during delivery. The inaugural edition of The State of the World’s Midwifery 2011 called for investment in trained midwives as the single most important response to the global crisis in maternal health.
The potential to save millions of women and children
According to The Lancet’s June 2014 Series, midwifery has vital potential to save the lives of millions of women and children who die during and around the time of pregnancy. New estimates quoted in this Series suggest that in the countries with the highest burden of infant and maternal deaths, over three quarters of stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths could be prevented in the next 15 years if effective midwifery was available to all women.
Sandoz supports training for midwives in Ethiopia
As one of the leading global generic medicines companies, Sandoz is committed to increasing access to high-quality, affordable medicines for all people, no matter where they live. Sandoz recognizes the important role of midwives for increasing access to healthcare in challenged areas and is currently working with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to support additional training for midwives and nurses.
In Ethiopia, a country where eighty percent of the population lives in rural areas and approximately 400 mothers and newborns die in Ethiopia each day 1,2, most women give birth in their homes. If a problem arises during pregnancy or birth, the first point of contact is with the primary healthcare institutions, called health centers. Unfortunately many health centers face significant challenges in their daily operations and are limited in their ability to adequately address pregnancy and/or birth complications.
1Ethiopian Ministry of Health: Country implementation plan for prioritized life-saving commodities for women and children, August 2013
2USAID: Quality of care for prevention and management of common maternal and newborn complications: A study of Ethiopia’s Hospitals