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Govt, partners recognise midwives' life-saving role

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

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

The International Day of the Midwife is an important calendar day for all midwives and partners worldwide. It was established in 1992 by the International Confederation of Midwives to honour and raise awareness about the essential role of midwives in providing care to mothers and newborns and is celebrated on May 5 of every year.

In a speech read on his behalf, Health minister Douglas Mombeshora said: “Midwives are a critical link to women and newborn safety. They are also Sexual and Reproductive Health champions. They partner with and combine their efforts to influence favourable outcomes for pre-pregnancy right through post-natal.”

The 2024 commemorations, held under the theme: “Midwives: A Vital Climate Solution” underscored the importance of midwives in the healthcare system and creating resilient communities. Midwives work under challenging conditions to ensure safe births and healthy families in our nation, making our communities more resilient.

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

The State of the World's Midwifery Report for 2024 highlights that investment in the midwifery workforce yields significant returns in terms of improved health and social outcomes. Midwife-delivered interventions reduce mortality rates by about two-thirds. In the East and Southern African (ESA) region, this translates to 1.2 million lives saved per year by 2035. 

Although still high, through investments from government and its funding partners, maternal mortality has reduced from 525 per 100 000 live births in 2012 to 362/100,000 in 2022. This translates to the death of 4 or 5 women each day. The role that midwives can play to reduce these preventable maternal deaths cannot be underscored.

Midwives play an even more critical role in climate change induced emergencies and disasters. Ensuring SAFE pregnancies and deliveries is particularly challenging during extreme weather conditions and droughts caused by the El Nino effect, during pandemics like COVID-19, disasters like cyclone Idai and during cholera and typhoid outbreaks. Midwives in Zimbabwe 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, has been 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 avert maternal deaths,” said UNFPA country representative Miranda Tabifor. She added: “Skilled midwives are the difference between life and death for many women and their newborns on a daily basis. UNFPA remains committed to ensuring safe motherhood by investing in midwives who can reduce 90% of maternal deaths.”

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

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

Through programmes such as the 2Gether4SRHR funded by the Government of Sweden and the Health Resilience Fund funded by the Governments of Britain, Ireland the European Union the GoZ and UNFPA is supporting various interventions to ensure safe motherhood and strengthen the role of midwives. This includes support to Midwifery pre-service training and service provision by supporting the MOHCC to capacitate the schools of midwifery with learning materials and with the implementation of the competency-based curriculum and support to the midwifery association to put systems in place and increase membership.

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