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Statement by UNFPA Country Representative on International Day of the Midwife

By Dr. Kim E. Dickson



Mr./Madam Chairperson

His Excellency /Her Excellency

ICM Member of Board of Directors representing for Anglophone Africa

President and Executives of the Sierra Leone Midwives Association

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer-MOHS

Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Board

Representatives of the West African College of Nursing

Matrons of Hospitals and Institutional Heads

Members of the noble profession of midwifery

Development Partners

Distinguished Invited Guests

Members of the Press

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very excited to be here with you today to begin celebrations of the International Day of the Midwife. You know when I am with midwives, I feel at home because you are my key partners in supporting UNFPA to achieve our three transformative goals of zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.  UNFPA, and I, recognise your daily hard work towards saving women’s lives and I say ‘congratulations’ on this special day.

This year is special for UNFPA as we are globally commemorating 50 years of existence and achievements –   in the over 150 countries where it operates. UNFPA Sierra Leone has outlined series of activities to celebrate the strides made. As UNFPA, we are a global organisation of the United nations committed to delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.  

We are also commemorating the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development where reproductive health, individual rights and women’s empowerment were recognised as the obligation of every country and community.

Coincidentally, this year also marks the Sierra Leone Midwifery Association’s (SLMA) 50 years of existence as well.  SLMA and UNFPA therefore come together today to celebrate with you as you deliberate on the theme: “Midwives: Defenders of Women's Rights”.  

UNFPA supports midwifery in the key areas of education, regulation, association and service delivery. As UNFPA Sierra Leone, since 2010 we have supported all midwifery institutions in the country (Freetown, Makeni and more recently Bo) in the areas of students’ scholarships, faculty development and clinical environment improvements. It is significant that so far that through UNFPA support, and with funds from UK aid we have collectively over 700 midwives to graduate and strengthen reproductive health services in Sierra Leone.  

UNFPA has also supported the development of the first ever Strategic Plan for Midwifery and Nursing which was launched last March by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone during the conference of the West African College of Nursing.  We are happy for the collaboration with the Offices of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Registrar of the Nurses and Midwives Board and the Sierra Leone Midwives Association in activities such as preceptorship policy development, regulatory bill finalisation, skills development in basic emergency and newborn care to mention a few.  Just yesterday, we have supported the executives of the SLMA to assess its strengths and gaps using the ICM Midwifery Associations Capacity Assessment Tool. We are also supporting efforts to conduct a midwives’ census to register all midwives in the public and private health institutions in the country to inform policy action. I urge all midwives to ensure that you are registered and counted. I personally requested that a team come here today to register all those who have not yet been registered!! Please make sure you have been registered before you leave today!

Midwives play a hugely important role in Sierra Leone by significantly reducing maternal and newborn deaths. Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal maternity ratios in the world at 1360 per 100,000. The work midwives do in Sierra Leone therefore has a direct impact on the health of women and children of Sierra Leone – Midwives in Sierra Leone actually save lives.

Before I end, as part of our UNFPA 50 years’ celebration, we have a special package for you and I will unveil it at later on during today’s programme.

Long live midwives of Sierra Leone, long live SLMA.  Long live UNFPA.

Thank you!!!