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The International Day of the Midwife, 5 May, is a day to celebrate the life-saving work of the world’s midwives. Midwives are the primary care givers for millions of women and newborns before, during and after childbirth, and also offer women and girls essential counselling and education on family planning and reproductive health.

Trained midwives save lives, and, if deployed in larger numbers, could avert approximately two-thirds of the nearly 300,000 maternal deaths and 3 million newborn deaths that occur each year. However, the 73 countries that claim 96 per cent of these maternal deaths have only 42 per cent of the world's midwives, nurses and doctors.

UNFPA is working together with a network of partners in more than 70 countries to train midwives, scale up midwifery services and end this deadly shortage of midwives.

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Midwife is Women and Newborns: The Heart of Midwifery, and on this day – and everyday – UNFPA salutes and supports these critical providers and the women and newborns at the heart of their care.

“Today, nearly 800 women continue to die every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. “We must do more. And we must start with training and providing more midwives. The future we want is one where midwives play their full role in ensuring safe deliveries, promoting healthy birth spacing and protecting the health and rights of women and girls.”

Midwives save lives in remote, Myanmar


Myanmar: Midwife Daw Aye Myint arrived in Magway in September 2015, determined bring down needless maternal and newborn deaths.

Quality reproductive care reaches remote communities in Lao PDR


Lao PDR: Nestled in a remote forest near the border with Viet Nam, the village of Labangkhok is one of the poorest in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Midwives help lower Afghanistan's towering maternal death rate


Afghanistan: Boosting the ranks of midwives has helped to lower the country's towering maternal and newborn death rates. 

Professional midwives set to improve maternal and child health in Bangladesh


Bangladesh: In the Dinajpur Nursing Institut, the stairwells are bustling with midwives-in-training, hurrying to class.

From tsunami survivor to heroic midwife


Indonesia: The morning of 26 December, 2004 started out like any other Sunday for Nur Asiah. The mother of two was up early washing clothes outside her parents-in-law’s house in a coastal village in the district of Aceh Jaya.