At Pakistan midwives' conference, Health Minister says they are 'backbone of the healthcare system': Imtiaz Kamal and Clara Pasha of the Midwifery Association of Pakistan have sent a report of the first national midwifery conference in the history of the country.

Author:Kamal, Imtiaz
 
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Imtiaz Kamal, President of MAP, is seen with the Pakistan Minister of Health at the opening ceremony of the national conference. The two-day conference was held in mid-December 2008 at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, in the capital city Islamabad, in collaboration with the TACMIL (Technical Assistance for Capacity Building in Midwifery Information and Logistics) health project of the US Agency for International Development.

The theme was 'Midwives Can Save Lives' and the event was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Health, Mohammad Afzal Sindhu. Terming midwives as 'the torch bearers in providing health services and the backbone of the healthcare system', Sindhu said 'the dignity of this centuries' old profession is acknowledged around the globe'. Midwives play a very special role in the achievement of national health targets. He attributed the country's high maternal and infant mortality rates to the non-availability of skilled midwives. Pakistan currently has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world, which stands at 268 per 100,000 live births.

An effective and enhanced role of the services of midwives in simple cases of childbirth could be an important contributing factor to bring about significant and sustained reduction in maternal and infant mortality. The Minister observed that globally many countries have reduced their maternal mortality rate with the active support of trained midwives.

Referring to the measures taken to support midwifery, the state minister said the government has started training a new cadre of community midwifery in 12 districts of the country, along with other training to provide midwifery services at the doorsteps of the people. 'Every community midwife will have to serve a population of 5,000 in the catchment area,' he said.

Sindhu said the government is committed to reformation of the nursing and midwifery sectors as a priority. He appreciated the contributions of all national and international stakeholders who are jointly working for the uplift of midwifery in Pakistan, and expressed confidence that the initiation of midwifery education would prove to be a step forward in overcoming the existing gaps impeding enhancement of midwifery and referral services in the country.

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