State of the World's Midwifery 2014 Launched - Midwives unsung heroes: UNFPA
Terming midwives ‘unsung heroes’ of maternal and newborn health, a global report has suggested further investment in midwifery education in Bangladesh to meet future need in reproductive, maternal and newborn health, reports UNB. The report, titled ‘State of the World’s Midwifery-2014’, said investments in midwifery education and training at agreed international standards can yield - as a study from Bangladesh shows - a 1600 percent return on investment.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in association with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) disseminated the findings of the report relevant to Bangladesh at a function at city’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
It mentioned that Bangladesh is an example of political commitment to midwifery, joint agency support to government and public-private enterprise.
Investing in midwives frees doctors, nurses and other health cadres to focus on other health needs and contributes to achieving a grand convergence - reducing infections, ending preventable maternal mortality and ending preventable newborn deaths.
However, there is an acute shortage of competent teaching staff in both public and private sectors to train midwives which the report identified as one of the challenges ahead.
Health Secretary MM Neazuddin, Director General of the Health Services Prof Dr Deen Mohammed Noorul Haque, Director General of Family Planning Nur Hossain Talukder, WHO Representative Dr N Paranietharan and Deputy Representative of UNFPA Iori Kato spoke at the function. The report said the process of sanctioning new public sector midwife positions is underway, but needs approval to ensure the diploma midwives can practice, the report said adding that coordination between the public and private sectors is essential.
“Importantly, much more needs to be done to provide the professional, economic and socio-cultural support to enable these graduate midwives to provide the quality of care that they are committed to achieving,” it said.
It said implementing the recommendations of Midwifery2030 can lead to significant returns on investment. A value for money assessment in Bangladesh reviewing the education and future deployment of 500 community-based midwives ranked positively for economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
The assessment calculated a beneficial impact comparable to that of child immunization, with a 16-fold return on investment and confirms that midwifery is a ‘best buy’ in primary health care. Bangladesh is educating 500 midwives who can potentially save around 36,000 lives.
Findings from Bangladesh show that the government and also the private sector have taken major steps to make the midwifery workforce available and accessible based on Prime Minister’s commitment at the UN General Assembly to have 3000 midwives by 2015 and 7000 more of them in a few more years.
The first 525 direct-entry Diploma in Midwifery graduates will be available for the provision of maternal and newborn health care services by the end of 2015.
The report pointed out that midwives are not yet considered as autonomous professionals. As the development of the midwives as a professional cadre is new to Bangladesh, the report shows a gap in the availability of midwifery workforce - only 41 percent of current needs of care during pre-pregnancy, antenatal, birth post-partum, and postnatal period can be met.