Around the world, we are experiencing a maternal health crisis. According to the 2011 State of the World’s Midwifery Report by the UNFPA, approximately 350,000 women die while pregnant or giving birth every year— almost 1,000 a day. Of these women, 99 percent die in developing countries. An estimated 8 million more suffer serious illnesses and lifelong disabilities as a result of complications at the time of childbirth. Every year up to 2 million newborns die within the first 24 hours of life. In addition, there are 2.6 million stillbirths of which approximately 45 percent occur during labor and birth. Millions more newborns suffer birth traumas that impair their development and future productivity. Maternal health
Experts from the WHO and UNFPA agree that these dismal maternal health outcomes result from a “triple gap, consisting of competencies, coverage and access.” In most countries there are not enough fully qualified midwives and others with midwifery competencies to manage the estimated number of pregnancies, the subsequent number of births, and the 15 percent of births that generally result in obstetric complications.
The WHO estimates that 38 countries have severe shortages in maternal health services. A few countries will need more than a 10-fold increase in the number of midwives, with most needing to either double, triple or quadruple their midwifery workforce to improve quality and coverage. Several countries have no existing midwife training program and fewer have a formal certification and monitoring process. Second, coverage of emergency obstetric and newborn care facilities is low and existing facilities are often insufficiently staffed and poorly equipped. This is most acute in rural and/or remote communities. Third, access issues from women’s perspectives are often not addressed.
Comprehensive midwifery education can change these maternal health statistics. Considering that 40% of under-five mortality occurs in the first 28 days of life, improving accessibility to skilled birth attendants has the potential to dramatically impact child-mortality around the world. Furthermore, skilled maternal and immediate neonatal care as delivered through a trained midwife is estimated to be one of the most cost-effective interventions to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. If implemented internationally with 95% coverage, it is projected to advert more than 100,000 DALYs on an annual basis.
Answering the Call for Midwives
The world needs more midwives. Our Global Midwife Training Advanced Internships, Midwifery Intensives and 3-Year Midwifery School provide a challenging learning environment intended to train midwives who will be equipped to provide high-quality maternity care in a variety of settings. But we do more than just train midwives. Our service learning model is designed to influence the way student midwives see themselves and their role in the communities they serve, and to develop the skills necessary to become the future leaders of positive change in maternity care. Apply Now.
Take a look at our unique approach to midwifery education and international clinical experience. Find out how we integrate service learning into our methodology. Learn more about midwife certification and the Midwives Model of Care, or how our programs can help you to become a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) through NARM. Read inspiring stories about how to become a midwife on our weekly blog. Learn about the state of maternal health worldwide. Share the UNFPA “Call to Action” with your network.