Midwifery has been with us, and central to our communities, since the beginning of time when women attended each other’s deliveries, ushering in new life. Through human development, midwifery has come to be institutionalized and professionalized. This year’s International Day of the Midwife is themed “for a better tomorrow.” Midwives not only save lives, they provide hope for that better tomorrow.
The Philippines, a low to middle income nation, is one of 68 countries that contribute to 97% of all maternal, newborn, and early childhood deaths each year worldwide. 2015 is the ultimate target year of the Millennium Development Goals, a broad-based international effort to eliminate poverty and its effects. Millennium Development Goal #5 seeks to address maternal mortality, reducing by three-quarters the number of women dying in pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period. Sadly, the Philippines will not achieve the target of 52 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Instead, 11 women will die each day leaving more than 30 children motherless for each maternal death.
Midwives are crucial in providing a host of reproductive health care services – from family planning that allows women and their families to number and space their children to vital pre-natal care that can identify at-risk pregnancies in time to refer mothers to physicians and facilities that provide life-saving interventions. Women are not dying from untreatable diseases and conditions during pregnancy and childbirth – they are dying from preventable causes: hemorrhage, hypertension, sepsis, obstructed and prolonged labor, and complications from abortion. Midwives are key to providing not only skilled birth attendance but the essential pre and post natal care an expectant mother needs during what is one of life’s most joyous experiences.
Save the Children and the World Health Organization estimate that another 350,000 midwives are needed to reduce maternal and newborn deaths. Knowing how pivotal women are to human progress, how they stabilize their societies – from nurturing their loved ones to nurturing their economies and their nations in the process – their tragic and unspeakable loss is felt by families and communities across the globe.
Facility-based births are on the rise in the Philippines as more women avail themselves of pre-natal care with midwives, nurses, and doctors. Birthing centers that partner with midwives, such as the one Alay Foundation is building, are the community connection to securing the health of so many mothers and newborns. Our birthing and women’s center is creating programming that effectively promotes and empowers midwives by making available the space, equipment, and technology to assist them in providing for expectant mothers and by facilitating continuing professional development for each of our partner midwives. Celebrate midwives, today, and for that “better tomorrow.” They bring forth the future through their dedication, skill, experience, and compassion.
Click on the link below to read “Giving Life, Giving Health: The Role of Midwives”