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Nine million midwives, nurses needed globally

By: Sheila Ponnie

Last week more than 9,500 global delegates from 170 countries participated in the Nairobi Summit which was first initiated In Cairo, Egypt, in the 1994. The goal of ICPD was to encourage partners to make “bold commitments to transform the world, by ending all maternal deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030”.

Organizers say that ICPD provides an opportunity for political leaders, scientists, researchers, policymakers, advocates, and youth to disseminate knowledge, celebrate successes, and identify next steps toward reaching the goal of enabling an additional 120 million women to access voluntary, quality contraception by 2020 – and beyond.

It also serves as an international platform where countries, organizations and individuals can make public commitments and can be recognized for their achievements on strengthening maternal health care and increasing access to contraceptive services, health information and to focus on and women’s rights equality and choice for women and girls in the world.

However, experts say, many women and girls are still not benefitting from this programme, with more than 800 women dying during pregnancy and childbirth every day and 232 million cannot access other forms of contraception.

During the summit, one of the areas delegates addressed was the need to build and improve on the health work force including optimizing the role of midwives as the way to overcome the issue of maternal death. But ICPD is committed to training thousands of health workers to help ensure at least 90 per cent of all childbirths are supervised by skilled attendants over the final ten years of the program.

Dr. Lale Say, of the World Health Organization said that more than 18 million health workers are needed in the next decade to achieve the ICPD 2030 goals of eliminating maternal mortality rate among women and young girl’s pregnancy. 

We need to train the already existing midwives and health workers”.

Masika Daphine Losio is a registered midwife working at Juba’s Teaching Hospital explained the challenges midwives faces in South Sudan adding there was a severe lack of qualified midwives in the country.

“There is a shortage of trained nurses and there is lack of beds in the delivery ward where about 25 women give birth every day.

Losio also stated that continuous electrical power is an ongoing problem, due to lack of parts to repair generators and the cost and availability of fuel and the issue of law and delayed salaries .

Jemma Nunu Kumba, Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare represented the Government of South Sudan on the closing day, of the three days conference.

One commitment Minister Kumba pledged is that over the next five years of the plan, the South Sudan Government will work on to achieve universal sexual and reproductive health and rights, by “committing to train and deploy at least 3,900 more midwives by 2030.

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, has estimated that nearly 45,000 pregnant women will endure childbirth complications this year and has requested more than $18 million for South Sudan.

L-R Mary Crown Princess of Denmark and Dr.Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director photo by AFP Group.

ICPD programme was adopted in 1994 among 197 United Nations Member states the programme is a forward-looking human development plan that puts human rights of individuals rather than numerical population targets at the centre of the global development agenda.

Ambassador Petersen, Denmark’s Special Envoy for ICPD25 was positive and hopeful assuring attendees saying in his closing remarks, at the end of this year’s 25th anniversary, Nairobi Summit, “There will be no ICPD50. Women and girls around the world have waited long enough to have rights and choices.” said “Looking towards 2030, we now enter a decade of delivery during which we will walk the talk, and hold all of us to account for the commitments we made in Nairobi.”

In closing, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, told the gathering, “Together, we will make the next ten years a decade of action and results for women and girls, keeping their rights and choices at the center of everything we do.”

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