The Lancet has released a major international series on midwives that focuses on promoting midwifery care in settings that currently have poor health outcomes for women and babies.
The series includes four papers on midwifery and quality care — developed by a collaboration of academics, researchers, advocates for women and children, clinicians, and policy-makers — and five commentaries by notable midwifery advocates, including Carol Sakala of Childbirth Connection, a program of the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF).
As Sakala wrote in an email NPWF supporters, the series’ authors conclude “that women and babies in all nations — from those with limited maternity care infrastructure to those such as our own with an overly medicalized approach to childbearing — can benefit from full integration of midwifery into their health care systems.”
Or, as the executive summary states: “Midwifery is a vital solution to the challenges of providing high-quality maternal and newborn care for all women and newborn infants, in all countries.”
The full series, which was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is available free of charge, though registration is required. Here’s the list of commentaries:
- The power of midwifery, by Richard Horton and Olaya Astudillo
- Meeting needs of childbearing women and newborn infants through strengthened midwifery, by Carol Sakala and Mary Newburn
- Health-care professionals in midwifery care, by William Stones and Sabaratnam Arulkumaran
- Interprofessional collaboration, the only way to Save Every Woman and Every Child, by Judith Shamian
- Disrespect and abuse of women in childbirth: challenging the global quality and accountability agendas, by Lynn Freedman and Margaret E Kruk
And here are the articles, each of which was written by multiple authors representing various disciplines:
- Midwifery and quality care: findings from a new evidence-informed framework for maternal and newborn care
- The projected effect of scaling up midwifery
- Country experience with strengthening of health systems and deployment of midwives in countries with high maternal mortality
- Improvement of maternal and newborn health through midwifery
Sakala has written a blog post about the series, too. Likewise, series contributor Petra ten Hoope-Bender and Seetal Sharma cover it at Huffington Post, where they write:
This report looked at those countries where midwifery services are most desperately needed. Only four of the 73 countries have a midwifery workforce that is able to meet the need for sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health services. Consequently, many women and babies die from preventable causes. A woman in Sub-Saharan Africa has a one-in-30 chance of dying while giving birth. In the developed world, the chance is one-in-5,600.
Experts have calculated that scaling up the skilled midwifery workforce would prevent close to two-thirds of all maternal and newborn deaths, saving millions of lives every year. [….]
Many of us have worked hard to collate, analyze and present the evidence to support the case for change. This includes identifying the country context, what a quality midwifery service looks like, the specific role of midwives within that as educated, trained, licensed and regulated professionals — all with women and newborns at the center, so that they can take their rightful place at the heart of the next round of the international development goals next year.
So now we have the evidence. We know the solutions. Now we must work together to change the world. Everyone must play their part to make the world safer for the next generation and for those who bring them life.
The video below celebrates and announces the launch of the series.