The 2021 State of the World’s Midwifery report, launched on Wednesday by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Confederation of Midwives, said that fully resourcing midwife-delivered care by 2035 would avert roughly two-thirds of maternal, newborn deaths and stillbirths, saving 4.3 million lives per year.
"A capable, well-trained midwife can have an enormous impact on childbearing women and their families – an impact often passed on from one generation to the next," Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), in a press release on Wednesday.
"At UNFPA, we have spent more than a decade strengthening education, enhancing working conditions and supporting leadership roles for the midwifery profession. We have seen that these efforts work," she added.
The report called on governments to provide an enabling work environment for midwives, free from gender-related stigma, violence and discrimination.
It also urged greater investment in the education and training of midwives and midwife-led service delivery, and midwifery leadership and governance.
Appointing senior midwives as leaders at country level would provide a significant lever for building capacity, it noted.