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New Study Reveals Investing in Midwives Could Save Millions of Lives

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Johnson & Johnson has partnered with UNICEF to improve access to quality health services and build capacity of provincial heath staff in four disadvantaged provinces in Vietnam: Dien Bien, Lao Cai, Kon Tum and Gia Lai. Key activities include building the capacity of healthcare workers at national and subnational levels on skilled birth assistance; implementation and scaling up of early essential newborn care interventions that are simple and cost effective such as delay cord clamping, immediate skin-to-skin contact with mother, breastfeeding within 90 minutes of birth, and kangaroo-mother care; and newborn care and early education. In addition, the program will support the training and placement of ethnic minority midwives to support home delivery among ethnic minority women in mountainous areas. The program is on track to train 2,100 health workers by 2020, and reduce maternal mortality by 75% and newborn mortality by 80%. Here, Mua Thi Kia (left), a midwife-in-training that is supported through the partnership with Johnson & Johnson and UNICEF, receives practical education from a trained nurse and gives consult to Thao Thi May (right) who is pregnant.

Lancet Global Health published a new study, Potential impact of midwives in preventing and reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths: a Lives Saved Tool modelling study, that documents the potential impact of midwives in preventing and reducing maternal and newborn mortality and stillbirths. Led by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Confederation of Midwives and the World Health Organization, the study—based on data from 88 countries—calls for greater investment in the profession, not only to increase the numbers of midwives but to improve their education, training, regulation and working environment.

According to the study, scaling up the provision of midwife-led care across the world could potentially reduce maternal deaths by 67%, newborn deaths by 64% and stillbirths by 65% if midwives were enabled to provide a range of interventions from family planning to post-natal care. This could equate to saving 4.3 million lives per year by 2035.

Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation in partnership with UNFPA and the Wilson Center hosted a panel discussion about the implication of the study. Recording of the panel discussion can be found here.

UNFPA also developed an infographic highlighting key findings from the study.