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FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 6 May 2019 - UNFPA in partnership with the Sierra Leone Midwives Association (SLMA) organised a week of activities to celebrate the International Day of the Midwife. The main event took place in Freetown on 2 May 2019, where 50 outstanding midwives were recognised with awards for their valuable in-service contributions in the areas of education, regulation, association and service delivery in Sierra Leone. In addition, UNFPA also distributed mama and baby packs to 50 pregnant women and new mothers.

The event at Atlantic Hall, attended by over 200 midwives, included speakers from the International Confederation of Midwives; the German development agency GIZ; the West African College of Nursing; the President of the SLMA; and with the keynote address delivered by UNFPA Sierra Leone country representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson.

Dr. Dickson emphasised the important role midwives play in Sierra Leone stating, “Midwives really do save lives.” Since 2010, UNFPA has supported all three midwifery institutions in the country (Freetown, Makeni and more recently Bo) in the areas of students’ scholarships, faculty development and clinical environment improvements. With UNFPA support, and with funds from UK aid,  over 700 midwives have graduated with the aim of strengthening reproductive health services in Sierra Leone.  

UNFPA has also supported the development of the first ever National Nursing and Midwifery Strategic Plan 2019–2023 which was launched in March by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone during the conference of the West African College of Nursing.  UNFPA also works in collaboration with the Offices of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Registrar of the Nurses and Midwives Board and the Sierra Leone Midwives Association to support activities such as preceptorship policy development, regulatory bill finalisation, skills development in basic emergency and newborn care.   Additionally, UNFPA is 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. 

Midwives play an 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. 

In her speech, Dr. Dickson also highlighted that in 2019, UNFPA is celebrating its 50th anniversary and commemorating the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development. “This year is special for UNFPA as we are globally commemorating 50 years of existence and achievements accomplished in over 150 countries where it operates." She added, "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."

As UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem said in her statement on 5 May, “Midwives are public health heroes, ensuring that a woman can have a healthy pregnancy, safe childbirth and essential care for her newborn – among the most basic human rights.”

Other activities organised to commemorate International Day of the Midwife,  included the distribution of mama and baby packs to pregnant women and new mothers on Wednesday, 1 May, and a thanksgiving mass on Sunday, 5 May 2019.


For more information, please contact:

Ms. Angelique Reid, Communications Specialist

UNFPA Sierra Leone 

M: 078 340044