May 5, 2012
Midwives helped women deliver babies since the beginning of history. We can find references to midwives in ancient records, in Arabic, Greek, Hindu and Roman manuscripts, and in the Bible.
Having a baby should be a happy occasion, but in the developing world, it is often a complicated, life-threatening event. Every year, approximately 350,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth, up to 2 million newborns die within the first 24 hours of life, and about 2.6 million babies are stillborn.
The overwhelming majority of these deaths occur because women—usually the poor and marginalized—have no access to qualified health professionals. We can save many of these lives if a midwife attended every birth, particularly in rural areas. Midwives are critical to saving the lives of women and children, but also to reducing injuries during birth that can profoundly affect women's health long-term.
Increasing women's access to quality midwifery services is a focus of global efforts. Through Canada's Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, CIDA trains more health workers, including midwives and skilled birth attendants.
On the International Day of the Midwife, Canada celebrates midwives and recognises their hard work to prevent unnecessary loss of life in developing countries.
Beverley J. Oda
Minister of International Cooperation