The State of the World’s Midwifery 2001, a report released yesterday by UNFPA, indicates that if midwifery services were improved by 2015, approximately 3.6 million lives could be saved each year. The report underscores the current disparity between the number of midwives currently practicing and the number needed to reduce infant and maternal mortality.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA, stated, “The report points to an urgent need to train more health workers with midwifery skills and ensure equitable access to their life-saving services in communities to improve the health of women and children.”

The report indicates that “unless an additional 112,000 midwives are trained, deployed, and retained in supportive environments, 38 of 58 countries surveyed might not met their target to achieve 95 per cent coverage of births by skilled attendants by 2015, as required by Millennium Development Goal 5.”

In September, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Bank released a report stating that although maternal mortality rates have decreased by 34 percent since 1990, the decline in the rate of pregnancy-related deaths is not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target for 2015. Currently, there are approximately 1,000 maternal deaths per day caused by easily preventable conditions that include severe bleeding after childbirth, infections, hypertensive disorders, and unsafe abortion.

Media Resources: UNFPA Statement 6/20/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/2/11

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