With a firm commitment to ensure the safety of both women and children during pregnancy and delivery, midwives drawn from across the country gathered at the Umana Yana in Kingston, Georgetown, yesterday to celebrate International Day of the Midwife, one day ahead of the designated day.
International Day of the Midwife is celebrated around the world on May 5 and will be observed this year under the theme, ‘The world needs midwives now…more than ever.”
The local observance was preceded by a march which commenced at the Ministry of Health’s Brickdam Office and culminated at the Umana Yana where the health workers gathered to reflect on the work of midwives.
In a passionate address to the gathering, Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, underscored that “the time has come to acknowledge the contributions that midwives have made. For far too long we have talked about how far we have come but we don’t always acknowledge the role that each one of us has played.”
The Minister further expressed pride that Guyana has done well as a nation even as he paid tribute to the midwives who, he noted, have a key role to play in the health sector.
“The midwives of Guyana have stood up to the challenges and have delivered. We should not be shy in acknowledging that. It has not been a perfect road that we have travelled but no profession in Guyana and no profession in the world has travelled a perfect road.”
According to the Minister, the midwives have however had a journey that they can truly be proud of. Moreover, he noted that whilst today in the world only some women, in developing countries, are able to deliver babies with assistance, in Guyana more than 90 percent of women are delivering baby with assistance.
Statistics suggest that more than 25 years ago about 800,000 women died every year from childbirth globally, a figure which has since been reduced to just over 500,000 per year.
“That is still a high number…In Guyana your work has led to the fact that if we look at every five year period, e.g. 1985 to 1990, between 50 and 70 women died in childbirth every year. In the period 1991-1995, 1996-2000, 2001-2005, 2006-2010, for each of those five years period fewer women died of childbirth…
“Now we have between 11 and 20 deaths every year…We have come a long way we have made a lot of progress. Guyana needs not only to pay tribute but to publicly acknowledge and say thanks to every midwife that has worked in this country.”
The Ministry of Health has yet set itself an ambitious goal whereby the maternal mortality rate should not be more than eight per 10,000 by 2015, Minister Ramsammy revealed.
“We have set ourselves a goal whereby the maternal mortality rate should not be more than eight per 10,000 by 2015 which would mean we cannot have more than 12 maternal deaths per year. We have set ourselves a goal that our under-five mortality rate should not be more than 16 per thousand by 2015. These are ambitious goals and some would indeed say that they are too ambitious.”
Director of Health Sciences Education, Noel Holder, noted that while there was a spate of incidents which channeled the wrath of the public towards midwives, “we have delivered quality training…in every institution there will be a one, two or three percent situations that are sometimes blown out of proportion…” he asserted.
Yesterday’s event also addresses by Director of Maternal and Child Health within the Ministry of Health, Dr Janice Woolford, and the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) Technical Specialist, Derven Patrick.
Special mention was also made of outstanding midwives some of whom were presented with tokens of appreciation by Junior Health Minister, Dr Bheri Ramsaran.
The commemorative activities were later taken to the Aracari Resort at Versailles, West Bank Demerara, to a forum which saw the role of the midwife being highlighted in-depth by UNFPA’s Country Midwife Adviser Mandy La Fleur.
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