State of the World’s Midwifery Report indicates workforce shortages

Dr Conry quote graphic

The 2021 State of the World’s Midwifery (SoWMy) report presents findings on the sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn and adolescent health (SRMNAH) workforce in 194 countries. The report, produced by UNFPA, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Novametrics, shows the progress and trends since the 2011 edition, and identifies the barriers and challenges to future advancement. 

Estimates from the report suggest that only 75% of SRMNAH needs can be addressed in the best of circumstances. In low-income countries, this figure falls to less than 50%. By 2030, the forecast shortage of dedicated SRMNAH workers is 1 million personnel.

Yesterday, Dr Kanem, UN Under Secretary-General for UNFPA, Dr Cadée, President of ICM, and Dr Tedros, Director General of the WHO opened a launch event discussion on the report. Speakers included ministers of health, key partner organisations, midwives and other health care providers who presented key findings and policy messages from SoWMy 2021. The dialogue highlighted strategic priorities that can increase access to healthcare services and quality midwifery care that will ultimately reduce mortality and morbidity, and that will improve the health of women, newborns and families. This will help to inform the conversation on Global Strategic Directions for Strengthening Nursing and Midwifery, held at the 74th World Health Assembly.

FIGO President-Elect, Dr Jeanne Conry, says:

‘The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) recognises the need for an effective and resilient health care system for maternal newborn health, but we will only succeed in creating one through collaborative efforts and an educated, trained, and effective workforce. We are committed to a strong relationship with our midwifery colleagues to achieve these goals – together we will deliver a strong global health care system for all women, newborns, and adolescents.'

FIGO’s vision is that the women of the world have the highest possible standards of sexual and reproductive health, with universal access to quality health care. Without midwives, these goals are unattainable. OBGYNs are partners with midwives, nurses and other health care providers in the defence of women’s health and rights. One of our recently ended projects, the PPIUD initiative, was particularly reliant on the collaboration between OBGYNs and midwives.

FIGO believes that we will accomplish great things for maternal and newborn health, but that we will only succeed through collaborative efforts. We welcome the SoWMy report and invite our members and partners to join us in collaborating with midwives to advance women’s health.

Read the full report or watch the policy dialogue with ministers, government leaders, technical experts, and civil society organisations.