“When women can control the timing and spacing of their births, are treated with respect, and receive quality care throughout their lives, they are not only able to survive, but they, their families, and their communities can prosper and flourish. . By contributing directly and indirectly to the empowerment of women, midwives contribute to stronger economic, productive and equitable societies,” said Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, Director of the Technical Division of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA ), New York, at a recent event. organized by UNFPA as part of the 66and Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Midwives and midwives came together to discuss the important role midwives play in improving gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and climate justice.
Dr Onabanjo presented a 6 pillar framework to support midwives. The first pillar addresses the critical shortage of midwives worldwide. More needs to be done to elevate and market midwifery and to encourage young people to see midwifery as the noble and dignified profession that it is, Dr Onabanjo said. In Zambia, where 90 percent of midwives are women, midwives encourage other women to pursue careers as midwives, said Jenipher Mjere, midwife, sexual and reproductive health and fistula analyst at UNFPA, Zambia. The second pillar promotes midwifery leadership in policy-making, which requires strengthening midwifery associations, training young midwife leaders and creating leadership positions for midwives in the health sector. “Midwives must have a say in issues such as adequate funding, safe working environments, reasonable working hours, paid leave and access to continuing professional development,” said Dr. Onabanjo.
The third pillar improves the quality of midwifery education through access to competency-based education, clinical-based training, and improved access to qualified and qualified midwifery faculties and institutions. “[Midwives] should in fact be able not only to compete at the international level, but also have the opportunity to further their qualifications,” said Dr Yasmin Rashid, Provincial Minister of Punjab Province for Primary and Secondary Health, specialized health care and medical education in Pakistan. In Bangladesh, government support is helping with midwifery education and faculty development, including training and mentoring, said Siddika Akter, chief executive officer and director general of nursing and midwifery in Bangladesh. Bachelor of science and master of science programs in midwifery are expected to start in 2022 and 2024, respectively, she said.
The fourth pillar supports improved labor policies to ensure equitable distribution and retention of qualified midwives. To support the working conditions of midwives, we must listen to their voices, said Maria Hoegnas, midwife and director of Art Vie et Naissance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fifth pillar focuses on creating an enabling environment for midwives by strengthening health systems as a whole, including making systems resilient and adaptable to climate shocks. Midwives are at the intersection of sexual and reproductive health and action on climate change. During natural disasters, midwives are usually part of the initial health team deployed to provide life-saving care, including family planning and maternal and newborn health, said Dr. Emi Nurjasmi, president of the Indonesian Association midwives. Midwives also often work in the most resource-constrained settings, said Sister Aiva Pikuri, senior midwife and labor service manager in Papua New Guinea.
Challenges related to communication, physical accessibility, referral pathways, natural disasters and climate change often affect midwifery practice, Pikuri said. When midwives are highly skilled and supported with infrastructure and equipment, they are better prepared for the effects of climate disasters, Dr Onabanjo said. In Jordan, climate change is contributing to the most pressing problem facing the country: water scarcity, said Jihan Salad, Sexual and Reproductive Health Specialist at UNFPA, Jordan. “Some hospitals and schools do not have enough water to maintain sanitation standards, and as a result, the number of people accessing health services in clinics, including sexual/reproductive health services, has increased. diminished,” she said.
The sixth pillar to support midwives focuses on the need to strengthen accreditation and regulation of the profession to ensure quality of care and protection for midwives. When midwives are supported, so are the patients they serve. When you invest in the care and leadership of midwives, you empower the most vulnerable during one of their most crucial times in life: birth, Hoegnas said. “This will enable, empower and fulfill women and girls who give birth, as well as [the] midwife.
Sources: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Photo credit: Maternal Health Initiative.