More midwives could save 42,000 lives a year

Almost 48million mothers give birth without a midwife or attendant every year in the world's poorest countries according to a Missing Midwives survey by Save the Children

In the UK we take maternity care for granted, but in some of the world’s poorest countries pregnant women frequently give birth without a midwife, resulting in the death of 1,000 women and 2,000 babies every day.

Save the Children says if the global shortage of 350,000 midwives was met, not only would many mums be saved but more than a million newborn babies would survive every year.

‘No mother should face giving birth without help,’ says Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children. ‘It doesn’t have to be complicated; someone who knows how to dry a baby properly or rub it’s back to help it breathe can make the difference between life and death.’

The Missing Midwives report, conducted by the charity, shows the shocking discrepancy between the developed and developing world. In the UK, only one per cent of women give birth without trained help, compared to Ethiopia where that figure is 94 per cent.

There has been some progress around the world with the number of midwives in Afghanistan tripling in the past three years, but while there are 26,825 midwives to 749,000 births in the UK, in Rwanda there are only 46 trained midwives to cope with 400,000 babies born each year.

The charity warns that unless global political will and funds are pledged to plug the midwives gap and improve access to healthcare in general, the Millennium Development Goals to cut child and maternal mortality will not be met and mothers and babies will continue to die in shocking numbers.

‘We are calling on rich and poor country government to put health workers at the heart of their plans,’ says Justin. ‘World leaders pledged to do just that last year, but now they need to deliver the funds and political will to support this pledge.

Save the Children’s global ‘No Child Born To Die’ campaign for better maternal healthcare has a celebrity backing, including Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Natasha Kaplinsky and film director Gurinder Chadha who all attended the launch event in London on Friday.

For more information about the campaign, or to donate, visit


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