Midwives: The Vital Link To Saving Millions Of Newborns [VIDEO]

Catherine Ojo has seen more than her fair share of preterm infants in the 28 years she’s been a midwife in northern Nigeria. Every year, more than 250,000 newborns die in her country of largely preventable causes according to Save the Children — that’s over 1,400 stillbirths and neonatal deaths each day.  In fact, Nigeria has the highest number of annual newborn deaths in Africa, and the fourth highest of any country in the world.

After repeatedly saving the life of one premature baby, Ojo, a winner of a 2011 Save the Children Midwife Award, knew she had to do something to broaden prenatal and neonatal care in Nigeria, so she started the Special Care Baby Unit at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, in the city of Zaria. Almost 90 percent of women give birth at home in her region, so she trains others in vital aspects of newborn care, including CPR and preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission.

“We need to know that midwives are important in any society,” Ojo says. Watch this video and listen Ojo’s compelling narrative about what it means to be a midwife in Nigeria.

Madina Rashida of Afghanistan also received a 2011 Save the Children Midwife Award for the work she’s doing in her rural village to convince more men to allow their pregnant wives to go to clinics for skilled help, and to encourage the women themselves to do so.

Afghanistan, where 1 in 11 women die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth, is the world’s most dangerous country to be a mother. And it’s so dangerous for women to be involved in family planning that  we can’t show you the video Save the Children put together about Rashida’s remarkable work as a midwife, and the way in which she’s mobilizing her community by breaking old beliefs, nor mention exactly where she lives for fear it could put her in danger. Over the past two years Rashida has supported hundreds of women both at the village health facility and in the community at large.

We can, however, show you this photo of Rashida with one of her charges:

Expanding midwifery services could help save millions of  lives — so much so that researchers believe that up to 3.6 million maternal and infant deaths could be avoided each year if more midwives were in place — especially in the areas of greatest need like sub-Saharan Africa.  In fact, as Care2 blogger Amelia Thomson-Devaux recently wrote,  the United Nations Population Fund released a new report last month that specifically calls for  “more and better trained” midwives. With a global shortage of an estimated 3.5 million health workers according to the World Health Organization, midwives are key to reducing maternal and infant deaths, especially in resource-challenged areas.

Save the Children estimates 1.3 million newborn babies’ lives could be saved if midwives were at al births and had the right training and health system support.

“Birth is the time of highest risk for new mothers and for babies, said Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program. “These awards highlight the vital role that midwives play in saving lives. We need many more midwives, especially those with the commitment of Madina and Catherine, to make sure that no woman, anywhere in the world has to give birth alone.”

Related Reading:

UN Calls For More, Better Trained Midwives

State of the World’s Mothers

Where Are The Best — And Worst — Places To Be A Mother?

Photos and video courtesy of Save the Children


Akin Adelakun
Akin Adelakun6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim6 years ago

Midwives are indeed very important people in societies where women are disregarded as someone not worth to spend money on. The husbands usually wait until it's too late to send for a midwife or go to the hospital because of the fees. We need to raise awareness that both mother and child can die if not given proper attention during childbirth.

Bette M.
Bette M6 years ago

Maarja wrote:
"The comments saying that we should focus on birth control, not midviwes, seem a bit callous to me. Yes, overpopulation is a problem. Does that mean we should just have children and mothers die so there'd be less people on earth?"

Damned right there should b less humans on this planet!!!!!!!!! With nearly seven billion of us here when will it stop? No other creature on earth procreates as man does. In affect we spit out babies like rats, rabbits & roaches!!!!!!!
Man has pollutes & about stripped clean all of the earth natural resources!!!!!!

Less of us more for us as a species. ZPG......ZERO POPULATION GROWTH!!!!!!!

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life........

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/midwives-the-vital-link-to-saving-millions-of-newborns-video.html#ixzz1RmnWbAkO

Maarja L.
Maarja L6 years ago

The comments saying that we should focus on birth control, not midviwes, seem a bit callous to me. Yes, overpopulation is a problem. Does that mean we should just have children and mothers die so there'd be less people on earth?

I may be mistaken, but isn't it so that educated, skilled midwives can actually teach about birth control and having less children?

Bette M.
Bette M6 years ago

Below is an NBC news headline:
Worst drought in 60 years: 12 million Africans face 'fight for survival'

Africa has one billion people, India has one billion, and China one billion.
Somethig tells me man is completely off his rocker & man has been admiring
himself in the mirror for far too long!!!!!!

We have the means to stop all this baby manufacturing. Why aren't we using

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.....Trees are the lungs of the earth........

Shel G.
Shel G6 years ago

I don't want to be negative or callous about this article -- there's nothing at all nice about babies dying because of lack of medical care (in the form of midwives or otherwise). But, like some of the other posters here, I don't find this article heartening at all because of the implications of yet more babies being born in Africa, which has one of the highest birthrates in the world.
I would love it if instead the resources went towards providing women with birth control and family planning education -- my understanding is that many African women actually would like to limit the size of their families but don't have access to birth control. Instead of the focus being on bringing yet more babies into the world, doesn't it make sense to provide better lives for the people and children that already exist?!

Bette M.
Bette M6 years ago

Amen Marie!

More populations control=fewer midwives. The obsession with babies will kill us all.

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.........

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/midwives-the-vital-link-to-saving-millions-of-newborns-video.html#ixzz1ROgS2pHg

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

More populations control=fewer midwives. The obsession with babies will kill us all.

Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak6 years ago

Before the advent of the God complex Western medicine, midwives were the way all babies were born.

Siusaidh C.
Susan C6 years ago

Mid-wives do wonderful work - sure wish I'd had one when, 40 years ago on July 16th, my son was born. Although I had a quick and relatively easy labour - thanks in part to being well-trained in the Lamaze method - it would have been great to have had someone who was not only there for me (my son's father was present) but knew what they were doing! Since several other women were giving birth the same night, the nurses were busy. I gave little trouble, so was basically ignored!

Of course women everywhere need good access to contraception as well as care during pregnancy, birth, and thereafter. But what a few commenters seem not to notice is that while some people consume far more than their share, others have only poverty. And to a large extent the excess in 'developed' parts of the world is built on the exploitation of other parts. Some of the latter took place in the past (eg. enslavement of African people, theft of African resources), some is going on right now.