Half of World’s Pregnant Women Lack Access to Skilled Care at Childbirth – UN Agency
New York, Dec 12 2006 2:00PM
Aiming to help save the lives of more than 5 million women and over 45 million newborns by 2015, midwives and public
health experts from 20 countries around the world have gathered in Tunisia for the first-ever International Forum on
Midwifery in the Community, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported.
Half of the world’s pregnant women still have no access to skilled care at childbirth, the agency said in a news release
on the event. This contributes to a persistently high number of mothers and babies who continue to die every day for
want of skilled attendance at birth.
To ensure that every pregnant woman and newborn has access to a skilled birth attendant, UNFPA, along with the
International Confederation of Midwives, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and their partners are calling on
governments to promote midwifery in communities.
Evidence shows that the health and well-being of mothers and their babies have improved in several countries, such as
Costa Rica, Egypt, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tunisia, because of their investment in midwives’ and
related training, UNFPA said.
In recent years, some governments in Northern Africa, Eastern and South-east Asia and Latin America have expanded access
to skilled birth attendants, resulting in significant improvements in maternal and newborn health, UNFPA said.
The 2005 WHO World Health Report estimated that 334,000 more midwives are required to reduce maternal and newborn death
“A strong midwifery profession is key to achieving safer childbirth, and all pregnant women should have access to a
midwife,” said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.
The meeting advocates promoting midwifery as a means of reducing maternal and newborn mortality.