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Midwives meet with the National Champion for the UN Secretary General’s Action Plan for Women and Children on the Twentieth International Midwife’s Day

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: More than 400 Cambodian midwives gathered to meet the National Champion for the UN Secretary General's Action Plan for Women's and Children's Health, First Lady H.E. Dr Bun Rany HunSen at the national celebration of Midwives Day on May 12.

This advocacy event was organized by the Cambodian Midwives' Association and Cambodian Midwives' Council of the Royal Government of Cambodia. The event highlighted the vital role of midwives in contributing to accelerating the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, reducing child and maternal mortality.

Throughout history, women have always helped other women through the journey of childbirth. Midwives play a critical role in communities. For the last 20 years a special day has been observed to honour and celebrate midwives' contribution to women's and children's health.

Equipped with technical skills and equipment midwives can save the lives of more than 350,000 women around the world every year. Their important role extends beyond the delivery room. Mr. Najib Assifi, UNFPA Regional Deputy Director emphasized that: "Midwives give vital assistance at birth, deliver family planning counseling and supplies, ante-natal and post natal care. Midwives helps women and men become parents and are often women's first contact with the health system".

Cambodian midwives have made an important contribution to the significant improvements in relation to several key maternal health indicators over the last decade. Delivery with skilled birth attendants increased from 32% to 71% between 2000 and 2010, while deliveries at health facilities increased from 10% to 54% over the same period.

"Midwives do not only deliver babies, they also offer services before and after delivery. They are crucial in the communities and to the survival of women and children".
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director.

The shortage and capacity of midwives remain challenging in Cambodia, especially in remote areas where there is higher incident of maternal death. To meet the increased demand for services, midwives need more and better skills. The National Champion for the UNSG's Action Plan for Women's and Children's Health reminded audience to pay more attention to maternal and child health issues as they are interrelated factors with Cambodia's other national goals in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development. She also encouraged health professionals to improve their professional ethics for the well-being of Cambodian people.