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Pakistan needs more midwives to provide reproductive, maternal and newborn health services: Report

Islamabad, May 14, 2015 (PPI-OT): The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan is holding a National Dissemination of Midwifery Workforce Plan on 15 May 2015 in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Since 2008, UNFPA has been partnering with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) to strengthen the coverage and quality of midwifery services globally and in Pakistan. In June 2014, UNFPA, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, ICM and partners, released the second State of the World’s Midwifery (SoWMy) report.

The report reveals major deficits in the midwifery workforce in 73 countries, including Pakistan, where these services are most desperately needed. The report also recommends development of new strategies to address the shortfall of midwives to save lives of millions of women and newborns.

“Maternal deaths have dropped by nearly 50 per cent, down from an estimated 523,000 in 1990 to some 289,000 at latest count. It is not enough” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA in his statement for the International Day of the Midwife 2015. He further notes, “Today, nearly 800 women continue to die every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. We must do more and we must start with training and providing more midwives”.

Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2013 estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, The World Bank and the United Nations Population Division shows that in Pakistan, every year an estimated 7,900 women are dying from pregnancy or childbirth complications. The SoWMy 2014 report shows that only 42% of the health personnel with midwifery skills are available to women and newborns to provide services they need.

One of Pakistan’s most urgent priorities is to achieve universal access to Sexual Reproductive Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (SRMNCH) services to improve the health and life chances of mothers and newborns. UNFPA has been collaborating with Maternal Neonatal and Child Health Programs at provincial level, Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC) and Midwifery Association of Pakistan to strengthen the midwifery program in the country.

For instance, to address the shortage of qualified midwifery teachers and to improve the standard of midwifery education throughout Pakistan, UNFPA has been supporting the PNC to pilot the Bachelor of Science in Midwifery (BScM) Program at School of Nursing and Midwifery at the Aga Khan University. Through this program, 21 midwives graduated with BScM in November, 2014 out of whom, 18 graduates were from public sector and were supported financially by UNFPA.

More recently, UNFPA Pakistan commissioned a consultancy to develop a workforce plan to assist the country to match the demand for Community Midwifery with the supply. This report reveals that Pakistan needs an additional 33,190 midwives to be able to provide adequate SRMNCH services. A national dissemination of the Midwifery Workforce Plan will be held on May 15, 2015.

The key objectives of the dissemination are to present the findings to the key stakeholders, advocate for incorporating the Workforce Plan in the costed Provincial Integrated RMN and CH plans and to raise awareness about the need for effective health workforce planning forecasting.

“Midwives are in the frontline and are making enormous contributions to the health of mothers and newborns” said Ms. Sarah Masale Deputy Representative/ Officer in Charge, UNFPA Country Office, Pakistan. “Greater investment in midwifery is the key to ensure that no woman loses her life while giving life”.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Ajmal
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
2-L Serena Business Complex,
Islamabad Serena Hotel,
Tel: +92-51-8355742
Fax: +92-51-8355966
Cell: +92-300-5001724
Email: ajmal@unfpa.org
Web: www.unfpa.org

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