ICM President Bridget Lynch sends 'greetings to the midwives of the world'.

As 2009 begins, this message will consider the MDG goals 4 and 5 and the work the ICM is doing to achieve them. I am reviewing our commitments, but also outlining the global initiatives which the ICM is supporting, to give you an overview of that work and to encourage midwifery associations and individual midwives to become involved to help achieve these goals.

MDGs 4 & 5: six years to the Countdown 2015--The ICM is committed to work with our global partners to achieve MDG 4 and 5 by 2015. The World Health Report 2005 Making Every Mother and Child Count identified midwives as the essential human resource to reach MDGs 4 and 5. In 2008 the WHO concluded that the world needs 700,000 more midwives to reach those goals. We are doing our part by developing the three pillars of a strong international profession: global midwifery standards in education, global standards of regulation and strong member associations. And we are updating our 2002 Essential Competencies to keep up with maternal and newborn health needs. Each of our member associations will have these standards and new competencies as benchmarks to strengthen midwifery in all our countries. These tools will also serve to ensure our profession is more unified at practice levels globally. However, it is one thing to strengthen midwifery at the global level; and another for all of us to be active in the global campaigns to achieve the targets of MDG 5: Reduce maternal mortality; Provide universal access to reproductive health care.

Safe Motherhood and Midwives--More women are dying in pregnancy and childbirth in Sub-Saharan Africa today than 21 years ago when the Safe Motherhood initiative began. As was stated in September at the annual UN Assembly, MDG 5 is the only one of the 8 MDGs with no significant gains in achieving its targets. Twenty years later more than 500,000 women a year are still dying because they are pregnant. A further 9 million suffer complications that can result in life long pain, disability and social exclusion. Three million newborns die during the first week of life and another 3 million are stillborn: 20,000 deaths a day related to pregnancy and childbirth. Lack of political will from all our governments was cited as the primary reason for this poor progress. Globally, in not just the poor, but also in rich nations, the vast majority of governments don't care that the poorest and most isolated women and their newborns continue to die or suffer unnecessary...

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