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Meet the midwives

Tuesday 05 May 2020 Marie Stopes International Contraception Burkina Faso, Nepal

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Every day, millions of midwives globally work hard to provide care. This International Day of the Midwife, we are thankful for the midwives working on the frontline to provide life-changing and life-saving reproductive healthcare. 

With a vast breadth of knowledge and skills, midwives play a vital role in ensuring women can exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. Being a midwife means supporting a woman through every step of her reproductive life, whether that is assisting her through the birth of her child, supporting her to end a pregnancy or providing life-saving care following an unsafe abortion.

Under COVID-19, the role of midwives is more important than ever. With lockdowns forcing women to stay at home, or isolated in remote communities, many women are struggling to reach essential health services, including contraceptive, safe abortion and post-abortion care services. As a result, it is projected that unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal deaths will rise. Midwives have a vital role to play in ensuring services continue and that women can exercise their reproductive rights and choice throughout the crisis.

"We are committed to advocating for a world where midwives can support women to make their reproductive healthcare choices safely, whatever that choice might be. Our healthcare workers and midwives are working extraordinarily hard to deliver life-saving care for us, and for women all around the world.​"

Simon Cooke, CEO, in a joint op-ed with the International Confederation of Midwives​ ​

Across our programmes, midwives are crucial to our work to reach vulnerable populations in remote communities where access to health services often are restricted. During the ongoing pandemic, we have witnessed first-hand the extraordinary resilience and courage amongst our midwives on the frontlines.

In Nepal, we find Tika. She is a qualified midwife and a Marie Stopes Lady, a collective of midwives and nurses who travel from village to village, door to door to deliver high-quality services to women in their own communities. Working in remote areas of the country, people often need to walk far to access her services, something that for many has become impossible during the nationally-imposed lockdown due to COVID-19. “I am still providing services, but they are limited. People often need to walk far to reach me and the lockdown has meant they are unable to get here.” But despite the challenges, Tika remains determined to do whatever she can to serve the women in her community. “Today I walked four hours to deliver contraceptive services to a woman who called me asking me to come over… No pandemic should prevent women from accessing sexual and reproductive health services.”

Similarly in Burkina Faso, Bengaly, a midwife and Marie Stopes Lady, is adapting through new challenges to continue to provide care to the women and girls who need her. She is able to navigate through quarantines and roadblocks by using her excellent relationships with local healthcare providers who help coordinate her visits, and she even uses the quarantine checkpoints as an opportunity to educate the officers in sexual and reproductive health when travelling between villages. To ensure the safety of herself and her clients she has implemented the latest advice to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection, for example by ensuring social distancing in the waiting areas. Her commitment has meant that she is able to continue to deliver essential contraceptive services to the women in her community. Because, as she says, “even in the most difficult situations, we have to be able to meet the needs of our clients”.

In a unique and challenging environment, our midwives are showing inspiring perseverance to adapt to the evolving crisis and continue to prioritise the work they know is essential to the lives of so many.

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Marie Stopes International campaigns to remove these barriers to access and protect a woman’s right to decide. With your support, we can prevent time-sensitive procedures from being delayed, reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for clients, and free up doctors’ time for COVID-related emergencies.

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