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FREETOWN, 5 May 2020 - The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sierra Leone joined the world in marking the International Day of the Midwife  on 5 May 2020. The International Day of the Midwife  recognises the unique work of midwives, especially in saving women’s lives. This year’s celebration is special as the World Health Assembly designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. However, the celebration has been marred by the COVID-19 global pandemic which has also affected the work of midwives all over the world including in Sierra Leone. Notwithstanding this, midwives remain vital to the health system as, despite any pandemic or other humanitarian situation, women continue to get pregnant and to give birth. Regardless of the situation, the lives of the women and their newly born babies need to be protected, and midwives are specifically trained and dedicated to do just that.

UNFPA recognises the outstanding work of all midwives during this pandemic especially in Sierra Leone which is among countries with the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world, with 1,360 mothers dying per 100,000 live births. 

As indicated by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, in her statement on commemoration of International Day of the Midwife, UNFPA recognises that in many countries hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, midwives are dying due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and overall lack of support. Midwives in many health facilities are being redeployed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, and this leaves women without access to life-saving, time-critical services. Maternal and newborn health must be prioritised as part of the overall health sector response to the pandemic in all countries.

Noting the essential role that midwives play in the care of women during pregnancy and childbirths, UNFPA, has, in the last decade, supported the Government of  Sierra Leone, in the training of midwives thus contributing to an increase in the total number of midwives in the country, from an initial 95 practicing midwives in 2009 to 852 in 2019. A near ten-fold increase in practicing midwives in the country.  UNFPA has also supported the development of key polices and strategies to guide and ensure quality midwifery training and practice.    

On behalf of UNFPA Sierra Leone country office, the Representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson, sends this goodwill message to all Midwives in Sierra Leone in recognition of their hard work and the pivotal role they play in saving lives of women and newborns.  ‘Midwives you are all heroes! You are the cornerstone of UNFPA’s work as we strive towards achieving 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’.  

Knowing that midwives are a vital pillar to the health system especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, UNFPA urges all individuals and institutions to do the following;  

1.         Demonstrate your support by acknowledging and informing others of midwives’ crucial role in reducing maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Without midwives, many more women and babies will die from preventable causes during childbirth amid the pandemic.

2.         Celebrate the achievements of midwives and their contribution to improving sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health. Make them feel proud as frontline health workers responding to COVID-19.

3.         Recognise midwives as unique professionals and make appropriate investments in midwifery.



About the United Nations Population Fund

UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Our mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.


For more information, please contact:

Angelique Reid, UNFPA Sierra Leone, Communication Specialist



John Baimba Sesay, UNFPA Sierra Leone, Web and Media Analyst

Email: Tel: +232 30953193/ +23279369395