WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, in a statement to commemorate this year’s International Day of the Midwife, said, “If current trends persist, only 300 000 midwifery jobs are likely to be created in low-income countries, with the shortage of midwives set to increase to 1 million by 2030.”
She said, “According to the 2021 State of the World’s Midwifery report, by the WHO, the ICM and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the global shortage of midwives stands at 900 000, and is particularly acute in Africa. With estimates that 75 percent of essential needs for maternal and reproductive health care are met by midwives, it is concerning that the comparative figure for the WHO African Region is only 41 percent.
“Midwives are central to the prevention of maternal and newborn deaths, and stillbirths. With adequate investment in midwifery, the report says that 4.3 million lives could be saved annually by 2035. This has particular relevance for the WHO African Region, which records about 196 000 maternal deaths each year, along with the deaths of one million babies younger than one month.”
She expressed worry over the existing gap, saying it has serious implications for the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live deaths before 2030.
The International Day of the Midwife is celebrated every 5th of May. The occasion provides the opportunity to honour the work of midwives, and promote awareness of the crucial care that midwives provide to mothers and their newborns.
She, therefore, urged governments and partners to substantially increase investment in the education, recruitment, deployment, retention and protection of midwives.