Let us protect midwives to keep women and babies safe during COVID-19 – UNDPF
Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Natalia Kanem, said midwives play a critical role in responding to public health emergencies like COVID-19, during World Health day on 7 April, which also marked the first International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
She said midwives’ life saving skills go far beyond delivering babies, they educate, empower and enable women to lead healthy lives and to exercise their rights to sexual and reproductive health.
“Amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, midwives risk their own lives to save those of pregnant women and newborns and ensure safe and healthy pregnancies, taking every precaution to protect the women they serve,” she added.
Kanem emphasised that it is imperative not to jeopardize essential sexual and reproductive health services by diverting midwives to serve as emergency personnel. “They are essential to the strong, resilient health systems we need to survive the COVID-19 virus, therefore midwives who serve patients outside of hospitals are crucial to maintaining the safe distancing measures necessary to curb the spread of the disease,” she said.
She highlighted that the more midwives who are ready to visit the homes of pregnant women in rural communities or who can offer phone-based antenatal and post-natal care, then the more people are able to avoid transmitting or becoming infected with the Corona virus.
Kanem said that as front-line health workers, midwives are particularly vulnerable to the virus which means pregnant women and babies are at risk too, therefore, urgent action to protect midwives must be taken. “This includes providing all midwives with the same personal protective equipment that other front-line health workers use to insulate themselves from contagion.”
She said all over the world, midwives are stepping up to the COVID-19 challenge and “with our support they say they will never abandon their patients. Life goes on despite the pandemic, pregnancy and childbirth are no exception, this is why we should do everything in our power to protect midwives so they can continue to keep women and newborns safe,” she concluded.