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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund in Zambia is pleased to join the government and people of Zambia in commemorating the 2017 International Day of the Midwife under the theme ‘Midwives, Mothers and Families, Partners for Life’; in recognition of the important and critical role that midwives play at individual, family and community levels.

Safe motherhood is every woman’s basic human right and every woman deserves access to quality midwifery care during pregnancy, childbirth and after child birth. In addition, all newborn, children and young people also have a right to life, health and well-being. This is possible through health facility, outreach and community based services provided by skilled and equipped Midwives, who can deliver about 87% of all essential integrated health services needed by women, adolescents, young people, children and newborns, as well as families and communities to end preventable deaths in Zambia.

In recognition of this, UNFPA acknowledges the significant actions by government and partners in support of a wide range of interventions to strengthen the midwifery workforce in Zambia, including meeting about 49% of its required midwifery workforce. Guided by a gap analysis of the midwifery workforce, sustained actions and targeted investments are required in critical areas to ensure Zambia records improved livelihoods, health and well-being of its population at individual, family and community levels. This is important as Zambia charts the way towards sustainable development and becoming a prosperous middle income country by 2030.

In his message on the occasion of the 2017 International Day of the midwife, the United Nations Under-Secretary General and UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin; underscores the central role of midwives in achieving the health related Sustainable Development Goals and targets. In his words:

“UNFPA celebrates the heroic and life-saving work that midwives do every day, often in very trying circumstances. Thanks to midwives, millions of women each year are able to exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning. These services help ensure wanted, healthy pregnancies and safe births.

Yet, far too many women lack access to these services. As a result, each year more than 300,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth, some 3 million babies do not survive the first month of life, and another two and a half million babies are stillborn. Most of them could have been saved by the care of well-trained midwives within the framework of strong health systems.

UNFPA strongly supports the training and work of midwives in more than 100 countries, including Zambia. UNFPA has also worked with partners to support over 600 midwifery schools globally, including midwifery schools in Mansa, Lewanika, Solwezi and Mongu, and educating midwives through pre- and in-service trainings. UNFPA has also strengthened national midwifery associations in 75 countries, including the Midwives Association of Zambia (MAZ) and helped enhance the regulatory framework for midwifery practice through the Ministry of Health and General Nursing Council to ensure standards and accountability.

Midwives save lives, support and promote healthy families, as well as support women, young people and adolescents to acquire appropriate information and access quality integrated services. In particular, midwives empower women and couples to choose whether, when and how often to have children. They also help avert sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and prevent illnesses like obstetric fistula, mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as support first time young mothers. To ensure we collectively improve gender equality, midwives have the capacity to support programmes that prevent and care for survivors of Gender Based Violence and child marriage.”

This message resonates with Zambia’s priorities on the occasion of the 2017 International Day of the Midwife.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund remains committed to sustaining its collaborations national governments and cooperating partners in ensuring a “Midwifery 2030 Pathway” through a versatile, skilled and equipped midwifery workforce. UNFPA Zambia urges sustained actions to further strengthen midwifery workforce Zambia through enabling policy environment; established accountability framework; prioritized and targeted investments; and strengthened health systems and community actions. This will ensure more women, newborn, children and young people survive and families and communities thrive.