Zimbabwe is one of 58 countries facing a critical shortage of midwives in the world and this has contributed to an increase in maternal mortality and child mortality rates in the country, it has been learnt.
This was revealed in a global report on the state of midwifery, under which providers offer care to women during pregnancy, labour and birth.
According to The State of The World’s Midwifery 2011 report, since 1990 the maternity mortality rate had doubled, newly-born deaths had risen due to the lack of midwifery workforce which equals 8 244 midwives inclusive of the nurse-midwives and nurses with midwifery competencies in Zimbabwe.
“But this does not necessarily reflect the number of practicing midwives,” the report has said.
“Zimbabwe’s economy, basic services and health system started to deteriorate in the 1990s and the humanitarian situation remains critical.”
The report was launched at a meeting of the International Confederation of Midwives in Durban, South Africa and released by the United Nations Population Fund last week.
It said there were 390 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births in 1990 in Zimbabwe.
The figure peaked at 830 in 2005 before going down to 790 in 2010.
According to the report, there was an urgent need to increase the number of people trained in midwifery to enhance Millennium Development Goals four, which is to reduce child mortality, and five, which is to improve maternal health, by ensuring a reduction of the maternal mortality rate to 98 by 2015.
The report said globally, 350 000 midwives were needed to reduce the maternal mortality rate.