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Celebrating Midwives — Defenders of Human Rights

UNFPA joined the globe to celebrate international day of the Midwife with Rwanda Association of Midwives and the Ministry of Health and Rwanda Biomedical Center. This year’s theme; ‘’Midwives - Defender of Women’s Rights” underscores the critical role midwives play in saving lives of mothers and children.

Midwives are public health heroes, ensuring that women can have a healthy pregnancy, safe childbirth and essential care for their newborn – among the most basic human rights.

“Midwives are critical players in ensuring that women exercise the fulfillment of basic right to quality sexual and reproductive health care services and leading productive lives. We celebrate and commend the heroic and life-saving work that midwives do every day, to ensure women have a healthy pregnancy, safe childbirth and essential care for newborn – among the most basic human rights including in remote, underserved areas, and in humanitarian crises”. Says Mark Bryan Schreiner, UNFPA Representative to Rwanda

Photo: UNFPA Representative, Mark Bryan Schreiner delivering remarks during the IDM2019 celebrations

Midwives deliver vital maternal health services that are key to reducing maternal deaths and making childbirth safer in remote and underserved areas. Midwives not only save lives, they also empower women and couples to make informed, healthy choices.

While playing a critical role, midwives face challenges such as insufficient number in relation to the demand in health facilities, work overload due to serving patients in different medical services, and lack of opportunities to upgrade their skills.

“In Rwanda, the available number of midwives  is 2,600 as of today. We are required to have 3,500 Midwives to serve the current demand. As midwives, we request everyone’s support and advocate to invest in midwifery” says Sister Josephine Murekezi, Chairperson of Rwanda Association of Midwives in Rwanda.

Educating and enabling midwives is a smart, cost-effective and sustainable way to bring us closer to achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services — a crucial target within the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Photo: L-R: Kacyiru Hospital Director, Mark Bryan Schreiner, UNFPA Representative in Rwanda, Professor Jeanine Condo, Director General RBD, and Sister Josephine Murekezi, Rwaanda Association of Midwives Chairperson during IDM2019 celebrations

Delivering her remarks, Dr. Jeanine Condo, Associated Professor of Public Health and Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Center under the Ministry of Health commended services of the midwives in saving the lives of mothers. “Midwives are indeed defenders of not only women rights but also human rights in general” she said.

While addressing the guests, UNFPA Representative shared with the public that UNFPA, this year marks two important Milestones: the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and UNFPA’s 50th anniversary.

“As we celebrate midwives today, we at UNFPA also are celebrating 50th anniversary and the 25th anniversary ICPD and its landmark Programme of Action, we are reminded of the paradigm shift it marked moving from national, economically driven approaches to family planning towards a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights” UNFPA Representative said.

UNFPA actively promotes midwifery education, association and regulation, training and support, advocating for stronger workforce policies and the integration of midwives into formal health systems.

UNFPA support in Rwanda is comprised of helping to align midwife training curriculum to International confederation on Midwives global standards, strengthen midwifery schools and build the capacity of midwifery tutors. At the same time, UNFPA work with midwife and medical associations to create an environment where midwives complement formal health services and are seen by both mothers and medical practitioners as a crucial part of maternal health care.

“Let us show our utmost appreciation for the tireless work they do by helping them ensure reproductive rights and choices and safeguard the health and well-being of women and babies in Rwanda worldwide” Schreiner says.

Midwives save lives and are indeed defenders of women rights!