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The 18th International Day of Midwives was celebrated in Ethiopia in a two-day event on 23 and 24 July 2010. The event was celebrated under the theme "The world needs midwives now more than ever." This theme will be an overarching theme until the year 2015 as part of an ongoing campaign to highlight the need for midwives in the achievement of the health related MDGs.

Making a remark on the occasion, Mr. Benoit Kalasa, Country Representative of UNFPA, noted "in Ethiopia we need more midwives to address the high levels of maternal and neonatal mortality as women continue to die every day due to pregnancy related complications." The maternal mortality ratio is at 673 per 100,000live births according to the Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2005. Moreover, the newly released report by Lancet states that Ethiopia is one of the five countries that are contributing 50 percent of the maternal deaths globally. Skilled birth attendance stands at only 6 percent in Ethiopia.

There is a shortage of 350,000 midwives worldwide. The UNFPA and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) indicate that midwives can prevent up to 90 per cent of maternal deaths where they are authorized to practice their competencies and play a full role during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth. UNFPA and ICM launched a new programme in 2008 to tackle the severe shortage of midwives in developing countries. The programme aims at building the national capacity to increase skilled attendance at birth by equipping midwives with skills, knowledge and attitudes to provide quality basic emergency obstetric care including other sexual and reproductive health services.

A number of presentations were made at the commemoration of the International Day of Midwives and visits were also made to selected health facilities by participants of the event.