MOH News
Dr. Al-Howasi Emphasizes the Midwives' Role in Reducing Maternal Mortality, Improving Birth Health
01 April 2014
His Excellency the Vice Minister for Health Affairs, Dr.  Mansour Naser Al-Howasi stresses on the key role played by the midwives in reducing the maternal mortality and improving the woman and birth health, describing it as pivotal and effective.
During his opening for the second conference on midwives under the auspices of his Excellency Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Rabeeah on Tuesday morning, he noted that the Minister of Health's (MOH) partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) of the Arab States Regional Office comes within the framework of the pioneering role assumed by the Saudi government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Heir-Apparent, May Allah protect them. Similarly, the government pays attention to all what helps elevate the citizen's status in the Arab states, as well as enhancing the health activities to that effect.
He went on to add that the conference is part of supporting and facilitating the ways of exchanging experience and knowledge to striking agreements regarding the strategic intervention necessary for boosting the midwifery services. This in turn assists in providing better maternal services and benefiting the entire family in the Arab region as its being the building unit of the Arab communities.  
In his speech before the attendance, he called for the significance of issuing recommendations contributing to upgrading the maternal health services, as well as focusing on preparing qualified midwife cadres helping providing high-quality services, materializing the MOH's motto "Patient First". In a similar fashion, he drew attention to the fact that the Kingdom's healthcare programs, in 2013, achieved positive indicators, to the effect that infant's mortality ratein the Kingdom reduced by8 cases perevery1000 births compared to 22 ones in 2006, whereas the below five infants' mortality rate declined, during the same period, by 9 cases per every1000 births compared to 27 ones. Further, the maternal mortality rate lowered by 14 death cases per every 100,000 births compared to 23 ones in 2006. On the other hand, the neonate mortality rate reduced per every 1000 births by only five death cases compared to 12 cases in 2006. Likewise, the average of post-birth age expectancy rose up to 75 years in 2013, compared to 71 years in 2006.
For his part, the Acting United Nations Evaluating Coordinator/Representative of theUnited Nations Children's Fund (NUCIEF) in the Arab states, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Zik unveils that the international community experiences a gap between the number of midwives practicing their profession and those badly needed for saving lives.
He went on to add that out of 59 states, there are 38 ones that may not reach the millennium developmental goals (MDGs) without drawing on an extra number of midwives, estimated at 112000.
He also noted that 3, 6 million death cases each year in 58 developing countries can be avoided providing that the midwifery services improve by the advent of 2015.
Moreover, he made clear that each year, 358000 women die during the pregnancy period and delivery worldwide, and over two million neonates die within the first twenty four hours of their lives die. On the other hand, 2, 6 million infants are born dead. This is attributed to the healthcare insufficiency or shortage.
Still, he pointed out that most death or disability cases occur in low-income countries as the woman, mostly impoverished and marginalized, cannot reach out to the working heath facilities or qualified health professionals, namely, the midwives and others possessing the midwifery skills.
Within the same vein, he underlined that according to the statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO), over 800 women and 8000 infants die due to complications occurring during the pregnancy period and delivery and in the post-birth period, which can greatly be averted. Even more, every year, three million stillborn cases occur. These lives can be saved providing each delivery case takes place with the help of midwifery.
For his part, the UNFPA Regional Director, Mr. Mohamed Abdel-Ahad extended his deepest gratitude and appreciation to his Excellency the Saudi Minister of Health, Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Rabeeah for his care and organizing and hosting this major conference, and for the support they received from their colleagues in the MOH during the preparation period of this conference.
He went on to say "the maternal death risk in the Arab region occurs between 1 in every 16 mothers to 1 in every 2000 mothers. However, since 1990, the maternal death rate declined by 30%, but we lag behind the goal intended, 75% by the advent of 2015, as stated in the millennium developmental goals. These statistics are not accepted for the region as a whole in the current century."
Meanwhile, Dr. Abdel-Ahad underlined that saving the maternal lives entail possessing a firm health system, able to provide on-birth qualified cadres, delivering birth planning services to assist in birth spacing. Similarly, it necessitates getting the required care regarding emergency cases, as well as delivering the high-quality post-natal care.
Further, Dr. Abdel-Ahad noted that the midwives play a principal role in securing a safe delivery, especially in the countries where women prefer giving birth at homes or home-like places, or those unable to reach the places where the proper health services are provided.As such, the midwives who received good training, had the ability to detect the risk signs, and are able to follow up the women play a key role in holding back the maternal death cases as they are within the reach ofthe woman, if need be, than other health service providers.
Dr. Abdel-Ahad also called for paying attention to introducing the midwifery profession in the organizational structures of the health ministries and the human resources-related policy. This aims at mobilizing more support and advancing the profession, andinvesting in upgrading the calibers and training programs in a way that goes with the world standards. Not only that, it is also meant for activating the cooperation among the south-south states regarding the midwife preparation programs and boosting the knowledge exchange  and the lessons learnt among the Arab states and non-Arab ones facing similar challenges. 

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