One in three women around the world gives birth without the help of anybody who has been trained to help – and two million give birth entirely alone. 2
Giving birth without a midwife or skilled birth attendant puts women and their babies at a much higher risk of death from one of the many serious complications that can happen during childbirth.
Midwives can reduce the number of deaths in childbirth, but there aren’t enough of them.
There are profound inequalities in the access to and use of reproductive health services within and across regions.
- Globally there was an estimated 289,000 maternal deaths in 2013, which is equivalent to about 800 women dying each day. 3
- Almost all of these women – 99 per cent – live and die in developing countries. 4 More than half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and almost one third occur in South Asia. 5
The world needs 350,000 more midwives. 6 Without them, women and new-born babies will continue to die from easily preventable complications. Every year, more than one million children are left motherless and vulnerable because of maternal death.
A key strategy for reducing maternal mortality is ensuring that every birth occurs with the assistance of a skilled health worker – meaning a doctor, nurse or midwife. Health workers bring vital basic health services to the poorest and most marginalised children, saving lives every day. Yet, the world currently faces a gap of at least 7.2 million professional health care workers, whose services are desperately needed.
2 Save the Children (2011) “Missing Midwives”
3 UN (2015) “The Millennium Development Goals Report.”
4 UNFPA (2012) “Giving birth should not be a matter of life and death.”
5 WHO (2015) “Maternal mortality”
6 Save the Children (2011) “Missing Midwives”