Every year on 5 May, the global midwives’ community celebrates the International day of the Midwife (IDM). The 2021 IDM was celebrated under the theme “Follow the data, invest in midwives”.
On this day, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), launched the State of the World’s Midwifery (SoWMy) Report.
The SoWMy report provides an updated evidence-based and detailed analysis of the impact of midwives on maternal and new-born health outcomes, and the return on investment in midwives.
The report highlights that if countries increase their investments in midwives, about 4.3 million lives could be saved every year by 2035. Midwives can provide up to 90% of essential sexual, reproductive, maternal, new-born and adolescent healthcare across the lifespan.
Therefore, it is important that countries invest in midwives in order to have healthier families, more productive communities, and more robust health systems.
On 18 March 2021, His Excellency Dr Hage G Geingob launched the Harambee Prosperity Plan II (HPP2). Pillar three of the HPP2 is about social progression, and the focus is on improved quality of life for all Namibians, and particularly the vulnerable members of society.
Goal three of achieving social progression targets improved access to public healthcare, and the aim is to improve and increase public health infrastructure through the construction of a 125-bed maternity ward, mothers’ lodges and a paediatric ward, the construction of a neo-natal ward as well as the construction of a mothers’ waiting shelter.
All these will be done at identified health facilities, as outlined in the HPP2. In fact, as enshrined in the constitution of the republic of Namibia, the right to health is a fundamental human right applicable to each human being.
It is thus commendable that the government has indeed identified the need to construct these facilities because women and children will have the right to access these sexual reproductive maternal child and adolescent services at the time and point of need. Indeed, it is midwives who will be at these points of contact in these communities to provide these sexual and reproductive health services.
The devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in Namibia has seen an increase in the number of teenage pregnancies, which left many teenage girls as school dropouts.
In addition to teenage pregnancies, there has also been an increase in the number of gender-based and domestic violence cases, resulting in some pregnant women leaving their homes to go to hospitals and pretend to be sick because they were escaping their domestic issues.
While these are situations which need the collective efforts of communities, midwives by training are also educated to provide essential care, including the response to domestic violence and addressing sexual and reproductive rights.
Therefore, as a country, it is important that we follow the data of what is happening in the maternity departments, and invest in midwives in order to achieve full sexual and reproductive health coverage and reproductive freedom for women and all who give birth. As a country, and within our homes and communities, let us support and recognise midwives as the central figures in the fight for the rights of women, children and communities.
Let us hold hands, advocate, support and allow midwives to consistently work in supportive and respectful environments with adequate water, sanitation and medical supplies. Where possible, members of the community must continue to recognise the decent and quality work of midwives.
It goes without saying that investing in midwives facilitates positive birth experiences, improves health outcomes, facilitates economic stabilisation and can have a positive impact on macroeconomics.
Play your part, follow the data and invest in a midwife.