Health activists at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York have spoken on the need for Malawi to have more midwives to reduce the high rate of pregnancy-related deaths.
Currently, the country’s maternal mortality rate is at 675 per 100 000 live births, according to the 2010 Malawi Demographic Health Survey (DHS).
Speaking during a ‘Partnering Beyond the Health Sector’ session, Save the Children International-Malawi programme coordinator Victoria Shaba said one of the challenges in meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 on reducing maternal deaths, is lack of adequate midwives in the country’s hospitals, which limits access to skilled birth attendants.
“Malawi has made tremendous progress in reducing child deaths, and we will have achieved MDG 4 on reducing child deaths by two-thirds by 2015.
“However, we are lagging behind in reducing maternal deaths, and this is partly due to inadequate number of midwives to provide skilled health care to pregnant women,” said Shaba.
She hailed government’s Safe Motherhood Initiative, saying it has contributed to the achievement of MDG 4, but said adequate midwives who have adequate tools to do their work would make a huge difference in saving women from pregnancy-related deaths.
Lennie Kamwendo, a midwife who advocates safe motherhood through White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, said at a separate meeting that currently, the ratio of midwife to patient in Malawi is 1:272, while the recommended ratio is 1:5.
Government leaders and experts from various sectors have gathered in New York, USA for the annual UNGA with a particular focus on assessing the progress of MDGs in the countdown to 2015 as well as mapping the way forward in the post-2015 agenda.
Edyth Kambalame, NPL’s Features Editor is covering UNGA in New York, USA. Follow her on twitter @EdythK