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CAIRO, Egypt — Improved midwifery education programs and modalities can assist in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity in the Arab States, and is an urgent need echoed the Second Regional Midwifery Conference in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last week.

A group of midwifery experts and representatives of the Ministries of Health from 17 Arab States including Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Sultanate of Oman, Palestine, Somalia, the Sudan, Tunisia, U.A.E., and Yemen, International Organizations came together to jointly address the challenges and opportunities related to midwifery education in the Arab States towards the advancement of midwifery services.

The conference was organized by Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and UNFPA Arab States Regional Office.

South-South Collaboration
Technical assistance to improve midwifery education across was one of the main challenges addressed by the participants.

Although some degree of midwifery education reform is occurring in most Arab States countries, it is an area that has been diagnosed as in need of good foundations and adequate resources. The participants agreed that, modalities for collaboration among countries of the region as well as among agencies supporting midwifery, is necessary to advance midwifery education strategies and modalities. In the spirit of south-south collaboration experts from different countries will be working towards identifying opportunities to cross fertilize country level experiences; such as conducting reviews of midwifery competency and curricula etc.

Midwifery Education: An Urgent Priority
The conference which was the second of its kind aimed to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the midwifery education programs; exchange experiences and lessons learned; agree upon and advocate for adopting regional strategies and actions that are necessary to advance midwifery education, as one of three the pillars of the framework adopted by the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) for the development of midwifery.

A preliminary situation analysis undertaken after the First Regional Midwifery Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2012 stresses midwifery education as an urgent priority in the Arab region and highlights the necessary availability of the required financial, human and technical resources to be able to respond to the situation.

A Collective Way Forward 
“We, at the Arab states regional office of UNFPA, will continue to extend our support to the profession throughout the region and together we will make sure that “No woman will die giving life”. It is within our reach, it is in our hands,” stated Mohamed Abdel-Ahad, UNFPA Arab States Regional Office Director.

In their reconfirmation of the key role of midwives in improving the health of mothers and children including in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity across the Arab States, the participants embarked on translating the Arab States Regional Midwifery Conference Statement into concrete actions for their perusal in their home countries.