The president of the Liberia chapter of the Fellow of West African College of Nursing (FWACN) has said that midwives are the channels through which lives enter the world, and as such, they should be given the due recognition and support.
Professor Angela Sawyer said midwives have been given what she termed as a "natural obligation" to bring forth lives; they are to act responsibly and promptly in order to save the lives of mothers and unborn children.
Madam Sawyer, 67, made these remarks Monday, May 5, when she served as the keynote speaker at the occasion commemorating International Day of the Midwife. The Day was celebrated at the Samuel Kanyan Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville City.
Prof. Sawyer, who is a winner of the 2003 Global Council Health Award for better practices, said although midwives the world over have worked tirelessly to reduce global maternal and newborn deaths by half, they are in several instances constrained to work under difficult conditions.
The FWACN boss said more challenges such as lack of adequate training, negative attitudes towards patients and low incentives, are still preventing midwives from carrying out their obligation efficiently.
She noted that no woman should die while giving life, and no baby should die while coming into this world; and if this happens, it is a shame to a midwife.
“Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) came into being, global maternal death has been reduced by half. But there still more work to be done. At a 2007 global conference in London, it was disclosed that over ten million mothers die annually while several millions suffer complicated conditions throughout their lives. The number of babies that died doubles this statistics,” she said.
Madam Sawyer said that on the local scene, midwives have also made tremendous efforts in reducing maternal and newborn deaths in the country. She said this is evidenced by Liberia's being one of hte few countries on the verge of achieving MDG 4. She warned, however, against complacency.
“Considering all of the turmoil we have been through in this country, we have done a little to reduce maternal mortality from 994 to 700 per year, but the stastics is still high and we need to do more,” she said.
Madam Sawyer indicated that recent statistics show that over 60 women died every month while giving birth; 4 per each of the 15 counties.
“We want to make a difference. When a family looses its mother, the family goes through social and economic hardships. Let us know that the women are the backbones of the family and the country’s economic. When we lose one, it is also a social and economic lost to the family and the community,” she said.
Meanwhile, Madam Sawyer said that there are three pathways through which Liberian midwives can help reduce the menace of maternal and newborn deaths.
She named education, regulation and efficiency of the Liberia Midwifery Association. “We need to educate ourselves as midwives to make sure you are properly skilled and competent.
“Every midwife should know his or her code of ethics. Some of us are not conscious of our code of ethics and this is demonstrated in most of our health facilities in the country. We also need to be knowledgeable of the laws of our land which tell us the dos and the don’ts,” she said.
A message read on behalf of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, and the President of the International Confederation of Midwives, Frances Day-Stirk for the past two decades maternal deaths have drastically reduced.
The statement said in the same period, skilled birth attendance has increased by 15 percent, with two out of three deliveries worldwide now attended by a skilled health professional.
Midwives around the world celebrate the International Day of the Midwife on May 5 each year. This year celebration was under the theme: The World Needs Midwives Now More Than Ever.
The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) established the idea of the Day of the Midwife following suggestions and discussion among member associations in the 1980s. The initiative was formally launched in 1992.
The aim of the day is to celebrate midwifery and bring awareness to the importance of midwives’ works to as many people as possible.