Mr. Jude Edochie, UNFPA Deputy Representative on Tuesday called on countries with high maternal mortality rate to enact relevant regulations to create the enabling environment for the practice of midwifery.
"The world needs midwives now more than ever to save the lives of mothers and babies", he said at the opening of a two-week conference organised by the UNFPA and the International Confederation of Midwives.
The theme: "Investing in Midwives" was chosen to educate government of member nations on the need to develop that sector of the public health system as a way of promoting reproductive health.
Mr Edochie called on member countries to develop strong and credible professional associations and educational institutions for the training of midwives to raise the standards of practice.
Dr Elias Sory, Director General, Ghana Health Service noted that maternal mortality continued to be a major health problem globally, adding, "We see a mother suffering complications of labour without access to qualified support".
He said an estimated 530,000 of complications of pregnancy and childbirth with over 90 per cent deaths occur in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa each year and suggested midwifery be given the needed attention especially at the community level where most complications occurred to help in achieving the universal access to reproductive health by 2015.
"This is because the presence of a midwife in over 99 per cent pregnancy and birth related cases could lead to a decrease in mortality by 73 per cent. Furthermore, midwives are professionally positioned to address the first two delays in the management of obstetric emergencies".
Dr Sory said the service had outlined a multi-strategic approach for improvements, which included pre-service training of more midwives and their deployment to the community level to provide the needed services.
Mrs Abigail Kyei, Advisor of the International Confederation of Midwifery said the formation of the council's confederation sought to improve and increase the provision of midwifery services in low-income priority countries by developing the foundations of a sustainable midwifery workforce.
She said the body would also help strengthen and support midwives' professional autonomy to ensure that midwifery education was regulated, designed by midwives as well as supporting midwifery research to enhance evidence-based midwifery practices.
Mrs Kyei said the goals set would enable Ghana to achieve the objective set out by the Millennium Development Goals of reducing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity, Child Mortality, Promoting Gender Equality and Combating HIV, malaria and other diseases.