The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Midwives playing pivotal role in providing care, support to women

On the occasion of International Day of the Midwife

May 5th is the International Day of the Midwife and is marked in Afghanistan at a time as most women still do not have full access to maternity health services in remote areas of the country. Due to poor economic conditions and lack of midwives and maternity facilities, women in remote areas of the country face problems before and after childbirth. Midwives are the heroes of millions of stories. When disasters such as climate events or conflict strike, midwives are most often the first responders for women, representing the single most effective way to avoid preventable maternal deaths. Midwives are central to primary healthcare and are often the first and sometimes the only health professional that people see and the quality of their initial assessment, care and treatment is vital. They perform a vital service in providing care and support to women and their families while pregnant, throughout labor and during the period after a baby’s birth. The climate crisis in particular carries specific threats for women and girls: Research shows that hotter temperatures can lead to pregnancy complications and can cause or worsen maternalhealth issues including premature births and miscarriages. But midwives are not only first responders in the climate crisis. As providers of safe and environmentally sustainable services, they also represent a vital climate solution for the future. For instance, they can contribute to decreasing climate emissions by supporting breastfeeding rather than formula, which must be packaged and shipped. With that in mind, the theme of the International Day of the Midwife this year is “Midwives: a vital climate solution.” Many of the countries most at risk of climate change are also where women and girls are the most vulnerable to preventable maternal deaths. Climate disasters can disrupt access to family planning, safe births and other vital services. Midwives are instrumental in ensuring that health services are more mobile and can urgently reach women. Yet a global shortage of nearly one million midwives and a lack of international commitment to invest in their training, development and support limits their reach – and endangers the women and girls who rely on them for care. In the world, every two minutes a woman or girl dies during pregnancy, childbirth, or its aftermath. Today, there are an estimated 2.2 million midwives worldwide. WHO estimates that the world will need an additional 4.5 million nurses and midwives by the year 2030. In Afghanistan, it is also time to invest in creating an environment that enables midwives to do their important work, by establishing pathways to quality education, providing necessary resources and empowering them to act as full partners across health systems everywhere in the country. For years, the healthcare system in Afghanistan has been under resourced, underfunded, and failing to grow with the rising needs of the population, leading to critical gaps in the healthcare system. There are still lack of medical staff, particularly midwives and nurses in a country like Afghanistan. To alleviate the burden on most provincial maternity hospitals, there is a critical need to enhance the capacity of healthcare facilities in remote districts by improving infrastructure, staffing, and resources to provide basic healthcare services for women to reduce unnecessary referrals to provincial maternity hospitals. It is worth mentioning that the International Day of the Midwife is annually celebrated on 5 May, and was established in 1992 by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) to celebrate and raise awareness about the midwifery profession. Mashal Noori

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.