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The Lancet: Midwifery matters

July 23, 2014

A group of international experts, including researchers of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp (ITM), urge global leaders to recognise midwifery’s “vital potential” to save lives of women and infants worldwide.

Midwifery has a crucial part to play in saving the lives of millions of women and children who die during and around the time of pregnancy, according to a major new Series, published in The Lancet.

The Series, produced by an international group of academics,  clinicians, professional midwives, policymakers and advocates for women and children, is the most critical, wide-reaching examination of midwifery ever conducted. It shows the scale of the positive impact that can be achieved when effective, high-quality midwifery is available to all women and their babies.  Apart from saving lives, it also improves their continuing health and wellbeing and has other long-lasting benefits.

The authors also produce evidence of a trend towards the overmedicalisation of pregnancy, and the use of unnecessary interventions such as caesarean sections, in high-income and lower-income countries, with consequent hazards and costs.

ITM’s Vincent De Brouwere and Fabienne Richard contributed to Series 3 on “Country experience with strengthening of health systems and deployment of midwives in countries with high maternal mortality”. Their contribution is rooted in research that started in 1990 in Morocco with the development of the Unmet Obstetric Need (UON) concept. TheUON became an indicator and was measured in about 20 countries and included in the WHO Emergency Obstetric & Neonatal Care indicators in 2009.