EHS-COVID (279) International Day of the Midwife, 5 May

5 May, 2021

Extracts from the Healthy Newborn Network and a comment from me below. Full text:


Today is International Day of the Midwife (IDM). It is a day to celebrate and to reflect on the impact midwives and midwifery can make on reducing maternal and newborn mortality, morbidity, stillbirths and on improving quality care for women and newborns. It is also a time to consider how COVID-19 has affected women, newborns and health workers as well as how this global pandemic highlights the need for increased investment in midwives...

The International Confederation of Midwives theme for IDM is “Follow the Data: Invest in Midwives”. The case for investment in midwives is strong. Based on a recent study, if midwifery interventions were scaled up to 95% coverage by 2035, 4.3 million maternal and newborn deaths could be averted each year. This would mean a 67% reduction in maternal deaths, a 64% reduction in neonatal deaths and 65% reduction in stillbirths. The vast majority of lives saved would be in low- and middle-income countries. The provision of midwifery services by midwives who are educated, trained, licensed and regulated is associated with efficient use of resources and cost effectiveness. However, the case for investing in midwives is not new – similar compelling data was released a decade ago. So why hasn’t more been achieved?...

We have seen how the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the health workforce and service provision. It has reinforced the need to protect and invest in all occupations – including midwives – engaged in preparedness and response, public health and essential health services...

Now is the time for us to say thank you to all health workers, to recognize and celebrate the tremendous work they do. It is also crucially the time for governments to make long-term, sustainable investments in midwifery, midwives and health care providers delivering essential maternal, newborn and reproductive health care in very difficult times, to save the lives of new mothers and newborns.


On HIFA we have discussed the impact of COVID-19 in terms of increased levels of home births (due at least in part to exaggerated fears of catching COVID-19 in health facilities and hospitals). We have also learned about inappropriate separation of mothers from babies in maternity and special care baby units. I would like to invite HIFA members (especially those of you who are midwives) to share your experience and observations on HIFA. Email:

With thanks, Neil

Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Essential Health Services and COVID-19

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: