As many as 289,000 mothers and some 3 million newborns died in 2013 alone, mostly in 73 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, including Vietnam.

The statistics were shown in the second edition of the State of the World’s Midwifery Report titled “ A Universal Pathway. A Woman's Right to Health”, which was released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Public Health in Hanoi on July 2.

The report focuses on the urgent need to improve the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of midwifery services. It also shows the progress and trends that have taken place since the inaugural 2011 edition, and also identifies the barriers and challenges to future progress.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien highly valued recommendations in the report, saying that they will serve as an important reference for countries to outline relevant policies in the development of midwifery and maternity services towards 2030.

He called for stronger coordination among governments, domestic and foreign organisations, community partners and the public to improve prenatal, reproductive and infant care, adding that it is a responsibility of governments and leaders to ensure women’s rights to health care.

UNFPA chief representative in Vietnam Arthur Erken, meanwhile, made it clear that midwives can help avert maternal and newborn deaths, when they are well-trained, well-equipped, well-supported and empowered.

Produced by the UNFPA, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and several other partners, the report was released earlier at the ICM Congress in Prague on June 3.-VNA