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FREETOWN, 5 May 2021 - The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sierra Leone on Wednesday 5 May 2021 joins the world in commemorating the International Day of the Midwife (IDM), a day set aside to recognize the impact of midwives in especially saving lives of women and babies.  This year’s IDM is held on the theme “Follow the Data: Invest in Midwives.”

In Sierra Leone, UNFPA recognizes the critical role that midwives play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as they remain at the frontline in the fight towards the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality. We are particularly cognisant of the country’s gradual improvements on maternal health indicators; more so, in the reduction of maternal mortality by almost 40 percent. The 2019 Demographic and Health Survey indicates that there are 717 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 1,165 in 2013. This improvement was made possible with the contribution of health service providers including midwives. As we mark IDM today, it is critical however, to note that maternal mortality still remains high  and efforts must be renewed to reduce it to less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births as contained in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

“The latest edition of the State of the World’s Midwifery report launched today by UNFPA, the World Health Organization and the International Confederation of Midwives affirms that if we increase the number of midwives and the quality of care they provide, we would save an estimated 4.3 million lives a year by 2035. Universal coverage of midwife-delivered interventions by 2035 would avert 67 per cent of maternal deaths.”, said the UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, in her statement to the world on the commemoration of IDM.

Since 2010, UNFPA in Sierra Leone continues to support the schools of midwifery in Bo, Freetown and Makeni to increase the number of competent midwives to address the gap in the midwifery workforce. From an initial 95 practicing midwives in 2009, the country now has 3,382 midwives contributing to national development. UNFPA will continue to support the training of midwives and the development of policies and strategies to guide and ensure quality midwifery training and practice as well as availability of skilled birth attendants.    


As stated by the UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, “midwives often work under extraordinary circumstances. They may walk miles to reach women or open space in their own homes to help them safely give birth. They have faced increasing pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, and heightened inequalities in their workplaces.”


On behalf of the UNFPA Sierra Leone Country Office, the Officer-In-Charge, Dr. Nestor Azandegbe said, “midwives are a critical cadre working in communities including those in hard to reach areas to averting preventable maternal deaths, un-wanted pregnancies including teenage pregnancies, child marriage, gender-based violence and other harmful practices against women and girls.  Midwives are our unsung heroes who should be celebrated for  their relentless efforts and heroic role in saving lives especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We [UNFPA] remain thankful to them for their priceless contributions to humanity, and we celebrate their stories today”.


UNFPA works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.


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