Government and partners recognize the role of midwives in saving lives

The GOVERNMENT and its development partners commemorated on Wednesday International Day of the Midwives with recognition of 15 midwives from the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe who have excelled in their work.

International Midwifery Day is an important calendar day for all midwives and partners around the world. It was established in 1992 by the International Confederation of Midwives to honor and raise awareness of the essential role of midwives in the care of mothers and newborns and is celebrated on May 5 each year.

In a speech read on her behalf, Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora said: “Midwives are a vital link to the safety of women and newborns. They are also advocates of Sexual and Reproductive Health. They partner and combine their efforts to influence favorable outcomes from the pre-pregnancy to the postnatal period.”

The 2024 commemorations, held under the theme: “Midwives: a vital climate solution”, highlighted the importance of midwives in the health system and creating resilient communities. Midwives work in difficult conditions to ensure safe births and healthy families in our nation, making our communities more resilient.

“Midwives are silent heroes ensuring the health of mothers, newborns and families in Zimbabwe. Your dedication makes the critical difference between life and death. For this, they deserve sincere respect and recognition,” said Per Lingarde, Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe.

The State of the World Midwifery Report to 2024 highlights that investment in the midwifery workforce generates significant returns in terms of improved health and social outcomes. Interventions performed by midwives reduce mortality rates by approximately two-thirds. In the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region, this translates to 1.2 million lives saved per year by 2035.

Although it remains high, thanks to investments by the government and its financial partners, maternal mortality has reduced from 525 per 100,000 live births in 2012 to 362 per 100,000 in 2022. This translates into the death of 4 or 5 women every day . The role that midwives can play in reducing these preventable maternal deaths cannot be overstated.

Midwives play an even more critical role in emergencies and disasters caused by climate change. Ensuring SAFE pregnancies and births is particularly difficult during extreme weather conditions and droughts caused by the El Niño effect, during pandemics such as COVID-19, disasters such as Cyclone Idai, and during outbreaks of cholera and typhoid. Zimbabwe’s midwives have also been instrumental in responding to the recent cholera outbreak. They have worked day and night to provide essential care to pregnant women and new mothers, ensuring their safety and well-being in the face of this public health crisis. UNFPA, through its Emergency Fund, is proud to support these efforts, providing midwives with the resources and supplies they need to continue their life-saving work.

“It is important to invest in strengthening the skills of midwives to prevent maternal deaths,” said UNFPA representative in the country, Miranda Tabifor. She added: “Qualified midwives make the difference between life and death for many women and their newborns every day. “UNFPA remains committed to ensuring safe motherhood by investing in midwives who can reduce 90% of maternal deaths.”

President of the Confederation of Midwives of Zimbabwe, Blessing Mapfumo, said: “International Day of Midwives is a day of celebrations and by highlighting how important Midwifery Day is, it is also a call to action for our planet and also for midwifery.”

She added: “ZICOM greatly appreciates the partners who found it important to honor our midwives on this special day as they play a vital role in saving the lives of women and their babies.”

Through programs such as 2Gether4SRHR funded by the Government of Sweden and the Health Resilience Fund funded by the Governments of Great Britain, Ireland, the European Union, the Government of Zambia and UNFPA they are supporting various interventions to ensure safe and strengthen the role of midwives. This includes supporting midwifery pre-service training and service delivery by supporting the MOHCC to train midwifery schools with learning materials and with the implementation of the competency-based curriculum and supporting the midwifery association to implement systems and increase membership.

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