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The State of the World's Midwives 2014: Investing in Midwives Yields a 16 fold return in the Community

"State of the World's Midwives"

A few weeks ago we said that the State of the World's Mothers was in our view the most important global report around. Well, we didn't lie, but a tie for 'most important' would have to include the State of the World' Midwives. This report was launched for the first time in 2011, and this second edition, the 2014 report, saw considerable publicity associated with the Triennial International Conference of Midwives in Prague.

Since 2011, the report does take note of tangible positive changes that have occurred, including the following:

-33 of the 73 countries (45%) report vigorous attempts to improve workforce retention
in remote areas;
-20 countries (28%) have started to increase recruitment and deployment of midwives;
13 countries (18%) have prepared plans to establish regulatory bodies;
-and 14 (20%) have a new code of practice and/or regulatory framework.

What is really starting to emerge is strong quantitative data and evidence on the impact of midwives. If you remember nothing else from this report, remember that the training of a midwife who then is deployed in community health care yields a 16-fold return. How do you measure that return? In c-sections avoided and lives saved. Kudos to the WHO, UNFPA and ICM for quantifying the impact of midwives and getting the messages so clear in this report.

Let's return to the tangible results. So while noting that there is progress, and that is preferable to backsliding, the fact that only 20 countries home to women in the most dire need of safe childbirth have 'started to increase recruitment of midwives' is not enough. Someone has to say it, it is not enough progress for the most vulnerable women. Who do you hold accountable? Who is spearheading and championing this issue in your district, province or country? How can they be incentivized to move more quickly?

Here is the link to the Executive Summary.

The head of UNFPA stated that "midwives are the unsung heroes of maternal, newborn health. Indeed, they are the unsung heroes for public health in the world.”. We could not agree more.

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