As health care providers, midwives serve in a critical role on the frontlines of childbirth, yet millions of women will give birth without the support or assistance of a skilled birth attendant. Each year 289,000 women die during pregnancy, childbirth, or in the post-natal period. An additional 10 to 15 million women will become disabled due to chronic illness or injury from what are largely preventable and treatable complications arising from pregnancy or childbirth. Midwives are trained to ensure women receive quality care before, during, and after delivery and are equipped to identify high-risk pregnancies which, in turn, enables them to refer women to health care professionals and facilities for preventative or emergency care.
Midwives save lives. Yet, globally, according to the World Health Organization, “more than one-third of all births take place without a midwife or other skilled health staff.” Midwives, with their training and location in the community, often serve as a portal to the health care system that extends beyond pregnancy and childbirth. They are often found offering counseling on issues of child care, nutrition, and family planning or administering immunizations and giving treatment for common illnesses.
However, there is a shortage or midwives universally. The World Health Organization estimates that another 350,000 midwives are necessary to reach the MDG 5 target of reducing maternal mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
In the Philippines there are approximately 150,000 registered midwives of which 17,000 are government midwives performing health services in over 15,000 barangay (village) health stations. The Philippine Department of Health reports that 56 percent of all births still occur at home while the remaining 44 percent are facility-based deliveries. These figures represent a need for more skilled birth attendance which leads to better health outcomes for mother and child. Midwives are part of the solution to bringing down the maternal mortality rate in the Philippines. Statistics show that 221 Filipino women die in childbirth per 100,000 live births. This amounts to 11 women dying each day. It is unacceptable that women should die while giving life.
With the opening of Mary’s Child Birthing and Women’s Center, Alay Foundation will work to integrate midwives into the center’s services. Midwives will benefit from the use of our facilities for pre-natal care and deliveries and will take part in extensive continuing education and empowerment programs. We feel every woman deserves to have access to skilled birth attendance with the explicit opportunity, and right, to live and thrive. Promoting the work of midwives is integral to our center’s mission as we seek to address MDG 5 and reduce maternal mortality in the Philippines. Visit our programs page to learn more about Mary’s Child Birthing Center and our other health programs. http://www.alaysabayan.org/