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Midwives Leading the Way with Quality Care

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Midwife, “Midwives Leading the Way with Quality Care”, is well in line with the national government agenda of Universal Health Coverage. The midwives in Kenya, through their professional practice, will play a critical role in attaining UHC.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund celebrates the heroic and life-saving work that midwives do every day, often in very difficult circumstances.

As the UN lead agency in enhancing sexual reproductive health and rights for all, we at UNFPA are concerned that each year more than 300,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth, while some 3 million babies do not survive the first month of life, and another two and a half million babies are stillborn.

In Kenya, over 5,000 women and girls lose their lives due to preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

Ironically, over 85% of these can be prevented when we have well-trained, skilled, motivated and supported midwives. Many of our mothers do not have access to the skilled continuum of care, starting from pre-pregnancy, through pregnancy and after birth. Midwives not only provide services in the maternity, but they provide other high impact interventions such as family planning, screening, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

We advocate for the training of more midwives, employing them and appropriately deploying them in our health facilities.

UNFPA supports training of midwives in over 100 countries across the globe. In Kenya, we support skills enhancement for midwives in Emergency obstetric and newborn care, family planning, fistula prevention and management, postnatal care, leadership, management, and governance. In addition, we continue to engage with policymakers in creating a suitable framework for midwifery practice.

The UNFPA Kenya Country Office is currently working with the Nursing Council of Kenya to review the curriculum for direct entry Midwifery training in Kenya. It is anticipated that this will allow those passionate in midwifery to pursue it confidently, and the institutions to employ and appropriately deploy professional midwives to save the lives of mothers and their newborns.

UNFPA has supported mapping of nurses and midwives in Kenya, indicating their qualifications and where they are – this report will be shared by the Nursing Council and Ministry of Health at an appropriate time.

This year, UNFPA has committed to procuring 40 childbirth training models which will be distributed to assorted midwifery schools.

It is anticipated that their use will enhance skills in the management of normal birth and subsequently reduce the current desire for cesarean section.

We acknowledge the leadership in Midwives Association of Kenya (MAK), who have taken care of this ‘baby’ since her birth in 2016. UNFPA has played a significant role towards the growth of the association: conducting Gap Analysis, development of Strategic Plan, support to the annual conferences, participation in the Global ICM congress among other international meetings. We also acknowledge Amref Health Africa, with whom UNFPA has partnered not only locally but also globally. It is through this partnership that we have achieved many of our targets. 

We would, therefore, like to reiterate our support to the Ministry of Health, Nursing Council and Midwives Association of Kenya among other stakeholders. Together let us pursue the journey of improving access to quality reproductive health care to save the lives of our mothers, girls, and infants.

On this day, UNFPA urges all governments and fellow development partners to join us in supporting midwives so more women survive and they, their families and communities thrive.